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review 2015-12-13 17:25
Paul Tremblay - A Head Full of Ghosts
A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel - Paul Tremblay

Ein Kopf voller Geister, bzw Stimmen, das hat Merrys ältere Schwester Marjorie, Zum Zeitpunkt ihrer Erkrankung ist sie vierzehn und Merry acht. Sie bewundert und liebt ihre große Schwester. Sie wundert sich zwar über ihr merkwürdiger werdende Verhalten, bekommt aber altersbedingt erst spät mit, das Marjorie wohl ernsthafte psychische Probleme hat. Ihr Vater, der schon länger arbeitslos ist, hat zu seinem Glauben an Gott zurückgefunden und sich mit einem Priester angefreundet. Nachdem Majrories Verhalten immer aggressiver wird und die Familie massiv belastet, kommt er auf die Idee, das seine Tochter von einem Dämon besessen sein könnte. Zusammen mit dem Priester beschließt er, das ein Exorzismus angebracht wäre. Da den Eltern auch durch die vielen Arztbesuche das Geld ausgeht, kommt der Priester auf die Idee, einen TV Sender auf diese bizarre Geschichte aufmerksam und eine Art Reality Show daraus zu machen.

 

"A Head Full of Ghosts" ist eine bizarre Geschichte. Da alles aus Merry kindlicher Sicht rückblickend erzählt wird, bekommt man manche Sachen nicht richtig mit, genau wie sie halt. Man blickt wie sie recht spät hinter manche Dinge. Zudem ist Marjories Verhalten sehr unterschiedlich. Manchmal spricht sie von dem Stimmen in ihrem Kopf, manchmal schreit sie nachts alles zusammen und klettert die Wände hoch. Dann wiederum flüstert sie Merry zu, das sie nur spielen würde und das alles wegen dem Fernsehteam  und dem Geld macht. Am Tage des vorgesehenen Exorzismus geht dann alles gründlich schief. 

 

 Es gibt noch eine Rahmenhandlung, in der die inzwischen erwachsene Merry einer Autorin, die ein Buch über diese ganze mysteriöse Geschichte schreiben will, erzählt, wie es wirklich war. Merry schreibt auch unter einem anderen Namen einen Horror-Blog, in dem sie die Reality-Show ihrer eigenen Familie analysiert. 

 

Es wird im Grunde bis zum Schluss nicht klar, was da genau in dieser Familie schiefgelaufen ist, wer eigentlich der psychisch Kranke, der Gefährliche war, ob Marjorie schizophren war, besessen oder nur boshaft-schlau, das muss man für sich selber beantworten. Es bleiben viele offene Fragen, warum z.B. die kritische und ungläubige Mutter diesem Exorzismus zustimmte (vielleicht wegen dem bevorstehenden Bankrott). Die ganze Sache läuft völlig aus dem Ruder und die Familie ist danach völlig kaputt. Zudem kann man sich, gerade zum Schluss fragen, wie vertrauenswürdig Merry selbst als Erzählerin ist. Auf der letzen Seite gibt es so eine komische Situation, die alles nochmal in ein neues Licht rücken könnte, aber auch zugleich ein wenig unglaubwürdig ist. 

 

Ein sehr ungewöhnliches Buch, das durchaus gruseln lässt, über Marjorie aber auch über den Verfall dieser Familie. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob der Autor den Blickpunkt einer 8jährigen wählte, damit er uns nicht alles so gut erklären muss, weil eine 8jährige es halt nicht besser verstanden hat und somit nicht kann, ober ob er uns bewusst im Ungewissen lassen will. Auf eine allumfassende Auflösung darf man hier jedenfalls nicht hoffen. Ich bin zwar nicht restlos zufrieden mit dem Buch, aber es wird mir gewiss in Erinnerung bleiben.

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review 2015-12-04 14:42
Peter Gilboy - Madeleine's Kiss
Madeleine's Kiss - a love story of suspense - Peter Gilboy

"I didn’t do anything to Madeleine. I’m a noted professor, for God's sake! Of course I Iiked her. How could I not? She was so sweet and southern-charming and girlish. Innocent and crazy, and delightful to be with.


“I helped Madeleine, that’s all. Yes, I know she’s missing now, but I can explain that. I can explain everything. I can even explain the devastating kiss, and what happened right afterward. I think it's actually beautiful what happened to Madeleine. I didn't hurt her at all.

"But even my lawyer didn't believe me. That's why I've to say it all right here.

“This is the story of what really happened to Madeleine."

 

 

This book is hard to review. It is a strange story the author tells us here. Adam Snow, an art history teacher, meets one morning a young and very strange girl. He spent almost immediately the whole day with her, takes her home to spend the night and the next day he accompanies her on a road trip.

 

Madeleine is not her real name; it is a name Adam gave her. Adam is an unreliable narrator. He has his own way of seeing things.  And maybe everything just happens in his head. We see Madeleine through his eyes, but I doubt that everything happens as he tells us.  Madeleine is weird, she knows things and she has this idea to find a woman named Rosalee.  But Rosalee lived long ago, but somehow Madeleine feels her presence.  After their trip to this western town, Madeleine is gone and Adam is accused of murdering her. He sits and waits for his verdict while telling us his side of the story.

 

The Problem with the book is, that nothing really happens. Adam sits and waits and tries to explain us why he fell for Madeleine, why he went with her on this road trip. Adam seems to have some mental problems, he has a strange look of the world.  On the other side the book is very well written and I liked some of the weird ideas. In the first half of the book I thought about quitting, but somehow I worked myself through and I must admit that I am happy about it. The book is getting a bit better towards the end. After finishing it, I can now look at the whole story and I thought about it and what might have happened between Adam and Madeleine.  It is a strange book, very different and  it was not easy to stay with it. So I am giving 3 stars, I liked the writing and I like the idea but I had some problems that actually nothing really happens.

 

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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review 2015-11-16 13:01
Ann Morgan - Beside Myself
Beside Myself - Kelli Ann Morgan

Helen and Ellie are identical twins - like two peas in a pod, everyone says.

The girls know this isn't true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.

Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.

But Ellie refuses to swap back...

And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself - until eventually only 'Smudge' is left.

Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister's dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist?

Beside Myself is a compulsive and darkly brilliant psychological thriller about family and identity - what makes us who we are and how very fragile it can be.

 

 

 

A disturbing and uncomfortable book about twins and a life changing game gone terribly wrong.

Ellie and Helen are twins. Helen is the dominant. She is preferred by her mother and a bully for Ellie, who somehow is a bit slower. They live with their widowed mother. Her father killed himself some years ago. Their mother falls into some kind of depression, hardly leaving her bedroom. So the girls are on their own most of the time. One day they decide to swap places and look if they can fool everybody. They change clothes and hairdo and adopt the way of speaking and acting. But they picked a bad day for this game. Her mother met a man and she is bringing him home on that particular day. So she is distracted and gets tricked by the swap. When Helen wants to stop the game Ellie refuses. Somehow nobody believes Helen. Ellie is to perfect being Helen and Helen herself finds her suddenly treated like the outsider with a learning disorder who can’t be trusted and is always messing things up. While Ellie enjoys her new life as the golden girl, Helens life is a nightmare.

The book has a second timeline. There we met Smudge. Smudge of course is Helen. We can see that her life is a mess. She never came around with being Ellie. In fact, she proved that everything was right what everybody expected from poor Ellie. She suffers mental health issues, hears voices in her head. Her twin sisters lives the life she which was supposed to be hers. She is married, has a daughter and a successful job.

This was a difficult read. Smudge is a strange character. Being little Helen she was a spoilt brat who bullied her twin sister. I think she must have mental issues right from the beginning then as soon she is forced in being Ellie she acts strange and is even a better Ellie than Ellie herself would have ever been. The worst person in this book is of course the mother. She is a coldhearted bitch. She suffered a trauma of her own as a child and later dealing with the mental illness of her husband she did not have an easy life. Something in her was absolutely broken that she could tread her daughters and especially Ellie like she did. But nevertheless she is horrible.

Smudge has to suffer a lot and I must admit her could hardly understand her sometimes. She is constantly lying. She has problems with herself and it is a pity that nobody could come through her and was able to help her come around with her life. But after all, she was still herself and later on it was in her hands to make her life better. But she always messed up and never got the help she needed.

This book is a dark drama about mental illness, about how traumatic experiences change your life and how much you are trapped in the person everybody expects you to be. I only give three stars because I found it hard to read and there is really a lot happening to Helen. Everything what could go wrong goes wrong for her. It was sometimes a little bit forced. And the book was too long, some things are too long explained. Also I would have loved to see more of the real Ellie. The book is focused on Helen/Smudge.

I don’t know if I would recommend it. It is a depressing book and not one you can “enjoy”.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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review 2014-10-25 07:33
BOOK REVIEW | The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

To summarize this book in one sentence: The Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman's descent into the harrowing grasp of Post Partum Depression while her husband and sister-in-law ignore her growing issues out of ignorance, blind righteousness and fear.

This story starts out seemingly harmless enough. A woman and her husband move to the countryside so that she can recover from a mysterious ailment.  Her husband seems to be careful, even overprotective - "He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction."- but with good intentions.  The narrator wants to stay in the downstairs bedroom, but her husband insists on her staying in the ex-nursey with the horrendous yellow wallpaper.

As the story progresses, she becomes more and more fascinated, and frightened, by the wallpaper: "There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will." As she continues her narration, the reader quickly discovers that there is something, very, very wrong.  However, it is only the reader who notices this.  All those around her seem to casually overlook her issues and they continue to grow and consume her.

Being trapped inside the head of a woman who is spiraling out of control is a terrifying experience.  Her obsession with the wallpaper grows, she begins to see in it a woman who "wanted to get out", she becomes an insomniac, falls into paranoia and yet nobody does anything about it.  The frustration I felt towards everyone around her, everyone who was seeing the effects of her PPD firsthand was something unlike I've ever felt while reading.

Towards the end, she conflates herself with the woman she sees in the wallpaper, signaling her final break:

"I've got out at least," said I, "in spite of you and Jane.  And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!"

I was honestly surprised by how chilling this was.  I knew, going into it, that it was about PPD and I knew that it was a disturbing read, but I didn't expect it to affect me as strongly as it did.  The honest truth is that PPD is still a very ignored problem among new and older mothers.  We still live in a world where a woman suffering from PPD is forced to have more and more children and never get any help - which ultimately leads to her being jailed for trying to drown them, but her husband getting off with a simple slap on the wrist for ignoring her mental issues.  The Yellow Wallpaper while written over a hundred years ago, holds a message that is still very relevant and important today.

Highly recommended.  82 accessible pages and maybe an hour of your time that will be well spent.

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review 2011-03-27 00:00
Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness
Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness - Clem Martini,Olivier Martini I hate to speak indelicately about a delicate subject, but many books and films about mental illness resemble one another to the point of seeming formulaic. Maybe that’s a testament to their accuracy; they all document a similar experience. Reflecting on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Girl Interrupted and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, the following list represents what I have come to expect from mental illness literature:1) A surprisingly-relatable protagonist who describes his/her disease in the first person, in surprisingly-relatable terms.2) A tour of a hospital inpatient psych ward, with introductions to various other patients, who inevitably range from mildly- sometimes comically- off-kilter to profoundly debilitated, some of whom act as cautionary tales about how badly things can end.3) Usually a “good” doctor/nurse/attendant, who shows the positive side of the healthcare system, and a “bad” doctor/etc who illustrates the negative.4) Some sort of resolution or therapeutic breakthrough which allows the story to end with a sense of a completed plotThat list looks callous, but it’s also about right. Bitter Medicine breaks from this pattern, and actually brings something new to the table. It is a nonfictional account of Oliver (“Liv” ) Martini’s struggle with schizophrenia from 1986-2010 (the publication date). Although Oliver himself provides illustrations, the text is entirely authored by his younger brother, Clem, who doesn’t always understand what Oliver is experiencing, but makes an earnest attempt to document it objectively. He’s a devoted brother who goes to great lengths to support Liv, but is frequently unsure what he should do. When Liv first experiences paranoia -imagining he is being followed by masked figures- it is painful for Clem to ask him to seek help. Ten years prior, their youngest brother Ben had similar delusions, but he committed suicide before he could get any substantial treatment. That experience left the Martini family with a lot of guilt, fear and uncertainty, which understandably surfaces in this story several times. Most of the narration follows Liv in and out of therapy, and details his difficulty finding work when he isn’t hospitalized. Little is said about the psych wards he frequently checks into. Much more attention is paid to the side effects of his medications (muscle spasms, poor balance, slurred speech, blackouts, weight gain). Those are real-life issues that other books never seem to touch on, but they can be a great concern to long-term psych patients. Another real-life issue is how Liv’s disease affects the family. Clem doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that Liv’s condition probably pushed his parents’ already-problematic marriage beyond its limits. He doesn’t blame Liv for the disease, but he does show the enormous demands schizophrenia makes on family members of the afflicted. Living with Oliver through trials with ineffective therapies, or trials of medications with intolerable side effects, through periods of unemployment… these all require a lot of cooperation, communication and understanding. Lacking those skills was a proximal cause of his parents’ divorce. That’s a tough message to deliver diplomatically, but it sounds credible coming from Clem. Instead of being bitter about it, though, Clem also cites ways his family benefited from the experience. Now that’s something new. Liv and his father had always been distant, but the disease did somehow bring them together. The father was the most outwardly shaken by Ben’s suicide, and when Oliver was diagnosed with schizophrenia, his father reached out in a way that surprised everybody. Likewise, there are instances where the brothers come together in ways they otherwise wouldn’t have. This isn’t being Pollyanna; Clem admits the disease takes more than it gives, but insists there are silver linings to be found, if you’re looking for them. That’s an unusual perspective for this kind of book.It’s also refreshing that there aren’t really any white-hat or black-hat doctor figures in this story. In fact, the doctors are hardly mentioned at all. There is however, a long discussion about how under funded/undermanned hospital-based and community psychiatric services are, and how many of the mentally ill are consequentially homeless or in prison. I was surprised to hear this, since the Martinis are living in Canada, where I assumed social services and community-based outpatient therapy was better. Apparently not.The last third of the book follows Oliver’s attempts -eventually successful- to qualify for a trial regimen of a then-new drug (clozapine), which he responds to remarkably well. At the end, the Martini family sees Oliver spontaneously smiling for the first time in twenty-five years. The smile is a much-needed sign of encouragement to a family desperately in need of one, but it isn’t a Hollywood resolution like I put on my list above. Clem makes it clear that schizophrenia is never cured and gone forever.If this subject holds interest for you, I highly recommend this book. There is a realism here which I have not seen surpassed in this genre.
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