Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review: All the Best People

By Sara Steven

Mental illness is something most of us don’t talk a whole lot about. In recent years, it’s become more accepted to have open conversations about it, yet I still feel as though an individual’s struggles, or the ripple effect it can have on families and loved ones often remain behind closed doors. What I appreciated most about All The Best People is the eye-opening revelations, the inner fight the main character, Carole, has within her, and the various points of view that are given from her support system.

Carole has witnessed what mental illness can do to a family, having lived through it herself. Her mother, Solange, had been sent to live in a mental hospital when Carole was just a child. There were experimental treatments in those days, various medications meant to help the patient, only it hadn’t helped at all. It made her mother worse. So, when Carole begins to hallucinate and hear random voices in her head, she’s terrified.

Carole’s daughter, Alison, is also terrified. She notices the changes her mother is going through and has no clue on how to help her. It’s also made Alison feel as though she’s not important to her mother anymore, that the focus has shifted and she’s been left behind. She’s afraid to say anything, not to Carole, not to her father, no one would understand, and even if she said something, they likely wouldn’t believe her.

Solange has glimpses of her former life from time to time, in the moments of lucidity. When her urgent need to take care of the baby she remembers being ripped from her arms doesn’t overcome her, and it often does. She yearns for the days when life was simpler, when she was happy with Carole’s father, before he changed. Before her world became so distorted and jumbled.

Three generations provide their own voice on the skeletons in the past, and the struggles of what they’re dealing with in the present. I felt absolutely moved when provided with the thoughts Carole has, the need for forgiveness from Solange, and Alison’s need to have her mother back. Yoerg has done a fine job of bringing truth to this family’s struggles, of helping to provide a voice for those who feel as though they are losing their identities. It reminded me of just how brave we can be when faced with adversity, and how we’re all deserving of respect and compassion, as well as human decency.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Sonja Yoerg:

1 comment:

Janine said...

This book sounds very interesting. I enjoyed the review too.