Jill Sylvester says that a lot of where she grew up — Boston — and what she does for a living as a licensed mental health therapist went into a book she recently published called “The Land of Blue.” It’s a young adult fantasy novel, she said, about a 12-year-old girl looking for her father in a land that is a metaphor for depression and addiction.
“It’s where I grew up,” said Sylvester, a Hanover resident for the past 20 years, about her earlier years in Boston. “The book’s inspiration was pretty much birthed out of the work I do, so pieces of me personally and professionally have contributed to it.”
Sylvester self-published the book, launching it this fall at Whole Foods in Hingham, selling copies and donating part of the proceeds to Learning Ally, a nonprofit helping children with difficulties reading print. The book is set in the Irish-Catholic neighborhoods of Boston she knows well, and presents a mystical journey of the power of friendship, love of family, and the choice to overcome darkness, Sylvester said.
“As a therapist, the work I do is predominantly with people with anxiety and depression,” she said. “I feel like a life coach; a lot of the work is through positive psychology, focusing on their strengths.”
The 400-page book took almost two years to write, said Sylvester, who is working on a new project, a three-book series. She loves both her careers, saying one augments the other.
“I absolutely love being a therapist, but this other piece of my life is so important, too,” she said. “The book really addresses the problems we deal with in everyday life, and the message is how do we work with them.”
The reviews have been good so far, Sylvester said, and it was listed on Fairygodboss.com as one of “12 Life-Changing Books to Help You Survive, Heal and Thrive.” The satisfaction in writing a book is in the writing and positive feedback, not “the promotional part — I detest that,” she said with a laugh.
“You hear from people that this is their life, their story,” she said. “That’s why you do it.”
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