Author: Barbara Claypole White
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
First Published: September 27, 2016
First Line: "If purgatory exists, it comes without sound."
Book Description from GoodReads: Sometimes the only way through darkness is to return to where it began.
Marianne Stokes fled England at seventeen, spiraling into the manic depression that would become her shadow. She left behind secrets, memories, and tragedy: one teen dead, and her first love, Gabriel, badly injured. Three decades later she’s finally found peace in the North Carolina recording studio she runs with her husband, Darius, and her almost-daughter, Jade…until another fatality propels her back across the ocean to confront the long-buried past.
In her picturesque childhood village, the first person she meets is the last person she wants to see again: Gabriel. Now the village vicar, he takes her in without question, and ripples ofwhat if reverberate through both their hearts. As Marianne’s mind unravels, Jade and Darius track her down. Tempers clash when everyone tries to help, but only by finding the courage to face her illness can Marianne heal herself and her offbeat family.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Review: Mental illness, dysfunction, forgiveness, turbulence, wit, love and, at the heart of it all ... family. This book runs the gamut when it comes to emotions and breaking down the walls surrounding, the often not talked about, stigma and issues of living with mental illness. Claypole White bravely explores the inner feelings, anxiety and fears of a person struggling with mental illness in an honest and respectful way.
The book includes the viewpoints of various characters including main character, Marianne, her childhood friend, Gabriel, her 'almost daughter', Jade and her husband Darius. While this seems like a lot of cooks in the kitchen, the transition between characters is smooth and the reader gets a very personal look into how mental illness not only affects the person afflicted but also their loved ones. Characters are vividly drawn, each with their own flaws, dysfunction, insecurities and problems. Readers will get a clear picture of what life is like for someone with bipolar disorder, from the frenetic manic periods to the other end of the spectrum when they're properly medicated and yet nervously awaiting their next manic period.
"There is no reprieve when you have a broken mind; cease-fires are rare.
Even on good days, you know everything could change on a dime.Fear is your constant shadow"
While the book focuses on Marianne, each of the other characters have their own varying degree of adversity, struggles and demons from their past to contend with. I may not have always liked the characters, nor agreed with their behaviours, but they were believable and I respect how they would come together, despite their issues, to support Marianne - the glue that bound them all together.
The focus on mental illness shares the spotlight with the notion of family. This is a story about the resiliency of a family facing ongoing, complex issues that could easily rip them apart. But while they have their hardships they love each other. They are a band of misfits who don't fit into the mold of a traditional family - they have no blood ties yet are bound to each other. They are a family in every sense of the word. They love each other and that feeling comes across to the reader.
"You're never truly lost if someone cares enough to
come find you. Lost is waiting to be found."
I had only a few issues that didn't sit well with me. First, Jade. She's spunky, funny and forthright but comes across, not as an almost 30-year-old, but more of a woman in her late teens/early 20's. I wish her story, specifically regarding her brother, was dealt with in more detail. I also wasn't a fan of how things end with Jade - sorry but it gave me an icky feeling. Finally, I felt like the ending tied up loose ends much too neatly for everyone. Those are nit-picky issues but they niggled at me as I read.
This is a story about secrets, mental health, regret, redemption, heartbreak, loss, healing and even a wee bit of humour to balance these weighty issues. Claypole White has written a sensitive and eye-opening book that sheds light on the often misunderstood and stigmatized issue of mental illness. She doesn't hold back as she details the challenges of living with mental illness for those afflicted as well as the effect on their loved ones.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Lake Union Publishing and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
The publisher has graciously given me one copy
of Echoes of Family to giveaway!
(Please note this giveaway is only available to Canadian and US residents)
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