I am not a book reviewer and one should never review a book unread. However, this book looks so promising and is so needed, that I thought I’d dare. Since I haven’t read it, many of my remarks are borrowed from other reviewers.
Greyson Todd (the protagonist) is plummeting into madness and the reader has a front row seat on three levels. The novel involves three timelines in the narrative as Greyson undergoes twelve 30 second ECT’s (electroshock treatments) in a New York psychiatric department. The book is timely because ECT has apparently been re-born (mostly for untreatable depression) and become vogue (with refinements). Many might recall the terrible history of this treatment and how patients were treated when it was being widely used. After the treatment people would often forget much, if not all, of their past and their personalities would be irrevocably changed.
Garey helps us understand the battle with bipolar by retracing Todd’s childhood trauma and examining his father. Family history is always significant in discussing mental illnesses.
During these shock treatments, the reader experiences the intimacies of his marriage to Ellen, his surrender to his well-hidden bipolar disorder when he leaves his family, and destruction of his own father who, most likely, was bipolar. Garey puts us inside of Greyson’s mind. We experienced his anguish; his disregard for all that could be sacred to him. As he unravels, his pain is overwhelming and the core of his madness is palpable.
Bipolar disorder ravages people and is often difficult to treat. During mania phases, many stop medication because their feelings are so exhilarating. Yet the fall is certain and each time becomes even more unbearable. Another amazing thing about this novel is that it focuses on a man. A gender prejudice often permeates mental health diagnoses, especially with this disorder.