This picture provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Tuesday Jan. 29, 2013 shows a crowd cheering the arrival of French soldiers in Timbuktu, north Mali, Monday, Jan.28, 2013. Backed by French helicopters and paratroopers, Malian soldiers entered the fabled city of Timbuktu on Monday after al-Qaida-linked militants who ruled the outpost by fear for nearly 10 months fled into the desert, setting fire to a library that held thousands of manuscripts dating to the Middle Ages.(AP Photo/Arnaud Roine; EMA-ECPAD)

Bonnie Henna’s autobiography is a revelation and it caught everyone off guard. The public did not know she was writing it until it was done. And as you read, you can tell it comes from an organic place, a place of strength.

It introduces us to who Bonnie Henna really is. What we thought we knew was the projection of her public persona and whatever the media perceived that to be.

At 19 Bonnie was in the public’s consciousness presenting the music show, Technics Heart of the Beat. She became the “it” girl of the time and her moves and tantrums were followed in the tabloids with allegations of heavy partying, alcohol abuse and bitchy tendencies. She was that girl you loved to hate, but couldn’t shake off because there was an intrigue about her, an X factor.

She has gone on to be a prolific and nuanced actress with credits in TV shows like Backstage, Soul City, Gaz’lam, Zero Tolerance, Hillside, and films such as Drum, Catch A Fire and Invictus.

With Eyebags & Dimples she reveals that she is a good writer. She is eloquent, precise, at times poetic, and intelligent with her words.

The book looks at her struggle with depression and she exposes herself nakedly with a genetic disorder that has wreaked havoc with two generations before her. She lets you in on her tough childhood and her fragile relationship with her mother.

She presents harrowing images and owns up to every detail of her journey. But there are parts that read like the life of a superstar, showing the quality of Bonnie’s celebrity.

She starts the book by saying how she felt misunderstood and how she also misunderstood herself, and sets the record straight for the behaviours that have come to define her in the media. Her depression, which was undiagnosed for most of her life, was the culprit that made her seem aloof and defensive when she was only terrified.

As a reader you will get “aha” moments as you get to experience Bonnie discovering her true self – from child star to wife and mother, from nothingness to triumph.

There is a lot to reflect on, a lot to relate to, a lot to inspire and a lot to take from this book, including Bonnie’s character and tenacity. This is an especially important book as it shines a light on the fact that mental illness like depression in most black communities is something that is not allowed to exist. It is considered a white man’s disease. You don’t get depressed; you are expected to simply get on with the art of living.

Eyebags & Dimples underlines the importance of a national conversation. A worthy read. – Kgomotso Moncho