Perfectly Imperfect Stories: Meet 29 Inspiring People and Discover their Mental Health Stories

Leo Potion, illustrated by Ana Strumpf

This is a book with an unusual message at its core: that it’s OK not to be OK. Perfectly Imperfect Stories introduces 29 contemporary icons from the worlds of pop music, sport, movies, science, even royalty. All these people have one thing in common: they have struggled with their mental health and have overcome their difficulties to go on and lead inspiring lives. 

At a time when so many young people are facing mental health issues (an estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression), this highly readable book is a helpful and reassuring resources. The stories show that famous high-achievers have often overcome personal difficulties along the way. And by reading these stories young readers can understand that they are not alone in facing mental health difficulties.

Many of the featured icons will be very familiar to readers: J.K. Rowling, Kylie Minogue, Rafa Nadal, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and Zayn Malik to name but a few of the contemporary ones. Others are well-known figures from the past who achieved greatness in their field of work, including Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, Beethoven and Abraham Lincoln. The issue covered range from anorexia and anxiety to depression, OCDD and self-harm. Each story provides a brief outline of the mental health issue and explains how the person in question overcame it to go on and lead a successful life. 

Ana Strumpf’s bright and creative illustrations bring a welcome light-heartedness to this challenging topic. The book reinforces the positive message that it’s important to recognize and talk about mental health issues, and to be honest about them. A useful resource list of organisations and agencies that offer help to young people appears at the end of the book.

Published by Magic Cat Publishing (64 pages)

Suitable for KS2+

Reviewed by Jane Walker