by Anna Redsand

This YA biography of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning), inspired by the meaninglessness that first-time author Redsand sensed in the life of a inhalant-abusing student she was counseling, has its heart in the right place. Luckily — aside from its generic subtitle — its head is there as well.

Redsand takes what, to many young readers, may be just another name on an assigned-Holocaust-reading list and fleshes out his life in a way that many in her audience will be able to relate to. Vienna-born Frankl was a free-thinking, intellectually rigorous, precocious teenager (Freud was a pen pal) who, despite his belief that existence surely must have some purpose, knew doubt and despair firsthand.

Viktor Frankl: A Life Worth Living gives ample attention to the subject’s experiences in various concentration camps and the way they tested his emphasis on the necessity of finding meaning even in suffering. But Redsand also examines his love of rock climbing — it’s not hard to imagine Mountain Dew sponsoring a Frankl lecture tour even into his 70s.

Perhaps most importantly, Redsand fills her text with tangible examples of how Frankl’s logotherapy treatment can assist adolescents in their own search for meaning while acknowledging criticisms of both Frankl and his approach to mental health. The book is capped off by extensive source notes and suggestions for further reading, and it’s not hard to imagine this title being one that a teenage Viktor Frankl himself would have appreciated — and benefited from.