There’s something very refreshing about an author who prefaces their book with an explanation of exactly WHY their story is different from the others of the same genre. That’s a rare find in today’s world.
Catherine knows that it’s coming. As sure as the passage of time, she’s certain that eventually her debilitating depression/bipolar disorder will rear its ugly head again. And because she knows it’s unavoidable, she has an escape plan. No way is she going to be caught unaware like the last time things went south. So she finds comfort in a shoebox. It’s here that she’s stockpiling an arsenal of medication sure to take her away from the pain for good. She doesn’t see what she’s planning as a selfish act. In fact, it’s her sacrifice to everyone she loves. Only when she’s out of their lives can they truly begin to live again.
But something happens as she’s just passively walking through life. She starts to care again. First in the form of Michael, her first boyfriend. And then along comes Kristal, someone who’s dealing with just as much as she is. Still, she’s bound and determined to follow through with her plan when, not if because she knows it’s inevitable, the darkness once again comes for her.
This book was so very good for too many reasons to list. The characters are real, raw, and flawed. Everyone has something they’re dealing with, even if it’s not apparent at first glance. And Catherine’s journey is difficult. It’s not all nice and neat and wrapped up in a pretty package by the last chapter. Real life is very much like that, and to pretend otherwise is not fair.
Buy It Now: The Weight of Zero
The subject of mental illness is very much at the forefront of our thoughts these days. Unless you or someone you know is personally affected by it, it’s easy enough to push the idea to the back of your mind. However, with every mass shooting or unspeakable tragedy that makes the evening news, we are once again reminded of the often unimaginable consequences of living day to day with mental illness. We don’t often think of very young children as being stricken, but it does happen.
Nine-year-old Nate has always been a unique, if somewhat difficult child. Although his mom, Ashley, has always felt that something about her son was a bit off, she and her husband Pete have just chalked it up to Nate being a bright, energetic boy. But as Nate gets older, his differences become more obvious. And, the results of his unusual behavior become more serious and eventually dangerous. At the same time, Ashley must deal with the pressure of her high-powered job and the demands placed on her from it. The story alternates between two perspectives. Although most of the story is told through Ashley’s eyes, we are given glimpses into Nate’s mind and his thought process as he tries to deal with his demons. The author skillfully weaves an intriguing story of a family trying to pull together under the pressure of an enemy not yet fully identified.
This book touched my heart in so many different ways. As a parent, I felt the pain, embarrassment, and grief that Ashley and Pete experienced as they came to grips with their son’s mental illness. Nate’s story was entirely believable and broke my heart as I read of his inner struggle. And of course there’s Grace, the older sister who is also affected by her brother’s turmoil. The story pulled me in immediately, and I wasn’t able to put it down. As I get older, it’s becoming harder and harder for me to stay up past midnight. When a book keeps me reading until the wee hours of the morning like this one did, it’s definitely a five-star read for me.
Buy it Now: Elephant in the Sky: A Novel