07 Oct

Young people, death and the unfairness of everything by Nick Luxmoore. Reviewed by Meg Harper in Therapy Today, April 2013

Nick Luxmoore always writes in a very readable and entertaining way. He has a wide and rich experience and anyone who works with young people would recognise some of the scenarios and feel they were in the company of a compatible peer. His thesis in this book is that young people feel compelled to fit the school prospectus stereotype of happy, healthy adolescence leading to a successful, fulfilling life, and that the adult world is complicit in sustaining that myth, unable to bear the far less appealing reality – that our disturbed and troubled offspring will face the same inevitable end as ourselves.

Luxmoore argues that underlying much adolescent trauma is acute cognitive dissonance – adolescents are fascinated and terrified by death but they live in a culture that appears to deny its existence and provides no opportunities to talk about it.

It is a powerful point and Luxmoore presents it well, in his usual anecdotal, journalistic style. I lapped it up as easily as a series of lightweight magazine articles – and came away similarly dissatisfied. At the end of the day, Luxmoore has few practical suggestions to counterpoint his thought-provoking reflections. I’m left unclear as to how he thinks counsellors should address this profound issue. I thank him for raising my awareness – but I would like a bit more help for my money!

Luxmoore has a gift for dialogue; he writes with fluency and the book is an absorbing read. He has a refreshingly intimate yet authoritative authorial voice but in places a more neutral, less didactic tone might be more appropriate. For example, he states baldly that ‘immortality won’t be possible’ – a view that contradicts the fundamental beliefs of several major faiths. It would be sad if this put off readers of faith. His thesis is important and valid, even if the book offers less practical help than I had hoped for.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012, 160pp, £13.99, ISBN 978-1849053204

Meg Harper is a counsellor, writer and creative practitioner

To watch a video of Nick Luxmoore reading an extract from the book, please visit:http://www.jkp.com/blog/2012/07/video-nick-luxmoore-reads-an-excerpt-from-his-new-book-young-people-death-and-the-unfairness-of-everything/
and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=46CrWbTPjRs