Hello, dear readers. This week is going to have a bit of a theme—not because I consciously planned it that way, but because my reading did. And if my reading had cooperated (all right, if my discipline about writing reviews had cooperated) these reviews would have coincided last month with Mental Health Awareness month. Instead, they’re here now, which is all right because mental health awareness is not a topic that should be confined to one month. At the same time, I’m not qualified to lead a discussion on the subject in a book blog. I’m only here because in a weird twist of reading synchronicity I read three books in a row that dealt with mental health and each was so strong, so powerful, that I knew I wanted to review them in context with each other.
That said, none of these books were comfortable reading nor even similar in subject. Two are fiction: Imagine Me Gone and Dear Fang, With Love and one is a memoir: The Time in Between and in all three the characters involved are endearing and frightening—and possibly, recognizable because the odds are we’ve all been touched in our lives by issues of mental health. In all three cases the authors are to be commended—in fiction, for putting such complexity on the page and making it achingly real and in the memoir, for having the courage to tell her story even though it is one that is still largely misunderstood.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a review of Imagine Me Gone, but until then I’m curious:
There is a lot of fiction out there, especially thrillers, that makes use of unbalanced (‘crazy’) characters, but do you have any novels you’d recommend that offer characters who deal with realistic emotional and/or mental issues? For such a prevalent issue it feels as if it’s not well represented in fiction.
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf says
Maybe Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto? Thursday 1:17 PM by Michael Landweber definitely has a thread…you’re right, it’s hard to think of adult fiction that’s covered it without it being over the top. (I mean, there’s Hausfrau…)
I thought of that one, but yes, it was kind of over-the-top. The best one I ever read was Too Bright to Hear To Loud to See- about bipolar. It was a 5 star read to me.
It’s not a thriller, but I would recommend “Etched on Me” by Jenn Crowell
I phrased that badly, Melinda- I’m interested in non-thrillers. There’s plenty of thrillers out there with a crazy protagonist (Gone Girl), but I don’t know of much fiction with a more realistic take on mental illness. That’s why I was hit so hard by the 3 books I read for this week.
Oh, wow, Catherine! I’m really looking forward to these reviews and your thoughts! I spend so much time with folks in the hospital who suffer from mental illness; I’ll try not to get on my soap box. The short version is that there is a HUGE shortage of resources available for these individuals and it really breaks my heart; I find mental illness immensely fascinating and I wish there were more assistance available.
These books will be really painful for you, Tara, given your work. I guess, maybe, in the same way it’s an underserved community it’s also not written about in fiction much? Unless it’s the villain- and it’s easier to make them ‘crazy’.
Al My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews!
Adding to my TBR right now. I’d never even heard of this one. Not that I’m looking to go on a reading diet of only mental health related fiction! When it’s done right it’s powerful, but it is also draining.