Thursday, January 10, 2013

Newspaper Diapers by M. T. Johnson

I have no idea why I'm fascinated with reading crazed tales. Especially, tales that are very similar to the premise of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. I think, it's mostly because the crime, or the abuse is so inexplicable. Or, because it's so out of the norm.

M.T. Johnson brings together a collection of stories pertaining to life at a group home for children (from very horrifying pasts). Each story is unique, detailing the life of a child or a coworker. The stories are brief; the horror is real. A few pieces give you a glimmer of hope, especially from the perspective of a counselor wishing they could show unconditional love in a way the broken children could feel it.

In addition to the broken stories there were a few "I can do it" stories. Little bits to encourage the narrator of the story. My favorite of these stories is three paragraphs long:

I feel like I see life clearly. I’m in a difficult transition period, but I know I’m exactly where I need to be. I’ve seen the writing on the wall and what the future holds for me if I don’t change. I’m so sick of not being present  – here, now, in the moment. The years seem to be over before they even begin, and the feeling that time used to pass slower continuously intensifies. I can’t take it anymore. Time didn’t go by slower when I was younger because I had less cares, less stress, and less responsibility; it was because no matter what I was doing, that’s what I was doing  – I was there, present. Of course I remembered the past and thought about the future, but it was different. It wasn’t mourning, romanticizing, yearning for, or getting angry about the past. And thinking about the future wasn’t turning so many moments and decisions and periods into preparation for something that never comes. I wasn’t locked into my debt or bad experiences. I was present and in the moment, whether I was crying or laughing.
I’m so fed up with this lifestyle, one where it feels like no matter what I do, I’m stuck with certain things that get me down or worried or stressed. I need to relearn how to be present, how to not waste so much time in my mind, how to not let my negative thoughts control me. It seems like the people deemed the healthiest are those who use their stress to better themselves, those with the safest, cleanest forms of escapism. But while jogging might be a more productive and positive outlet than getting drunk, you still need to deal with life once the activity’s finished. And I aspire to a life I don’t want to escape from.
I want to unplug myself from all my bad habits, everything from my destructive criticism to my negative trains of thoughts that waste time and energy. I finally recognize these habits for what they really are: addictions–addictions that still get the best of me way too often. I need to be better to myself. I love being alive; I know it and I feel it. But I need to be it.

This bit connects to more than abused children, broken people, or haunted souls. Some people wake up one day wondering "how did I get to this point," and then time becomes an enemy. The last half of the third paragraph is something I see people struggle with. (People and myself, to be precise.) Addictions sometimes get the best of us, and they become habits. And a lot of habits are hard to break; but the bottom line is that no matter what habits we've created or what criticism we receive; we can still change things.

We really can. It may take a long time, and it may not be pretty. But change is possible! Reading, or watching these crazed tales reaffirms my belief that things can change. Like the narrator in the story, we just have to change. Take that first step, do that first action.


Do you like reading books; watching movies? Have you ever come across a book or movie that inspired you to write about it? I'm looking for guest bloggers.


  1. Really, really, really good writing here, Sopphey. Loved your review. So glad you can connect with this book.

  2. This is a very well-written and thoughtful review.

  3. I also connected with Newspaper Diapers. You should add your thoughts about the book to Amazon and/or Goodreads as well; that would help to get other people interested in the book.

  4. It sounds like this book hit a cord with you. Its not an easy book to take. Really intense.but many will see that they are not alone.

  5. Great review. I agree with the above sentiment that you should share it on other sites! You have a great way of expressing your feelings, and I think they'd resonate with other readers.

  6. Thanks for the comments Amanda and Anonymous posters. You should check out the book, it's definitely a good read.

  7. Greetings from Finland. :)
    I found here by google, since I read this book last night and wanted to see what other people said about it. I really loved the book and was only disapponinted that it was so short. This book will probably haunt me for a long time.
    Have you read The end of Alice by A.M. Homes? Or Living dead girl...can't remember the writer. I recommend them both. Same kind of disturbing subject and both well written too.

    1. Hello! So nice of you to stop by. It is a haunting book, but at the same time it's part of the appeal. I haven't read Alice or Living Dead Girl, but I will definitely look them up! Thank you for your suggestions.