Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Tag: mental illness

Breaking Faith by E. Graziani


Breaking Faith high rez coverFaith Emily Hansen is the eighteen-year-old narrator with a lot of life to talk about in this gritty novel about family, mental illness, and addiction. All Faith wants is to be loved, to have a stable home, and to live without the need to “chase the dragon” – the heroin addiction that seemed to keep the Darkness at bay but ultimately led to her life on the street. As the story begins Faith appeals to other kids battling their own inner darknesses. Ultimately Faith wants to tell her story to show that there is hope and that she herself was pulled back from her ledge by an unlikely champion – the sister who she blamed for many of her problems.



Many thanks to the author for this review copy!

BREAKING FAITH is the hard hitting, roller coaster story of a girl from a dysfunctional family that just wants to be loved. Her mother is on drugs, her grandmother is frigid, and her two sisters are normal. As the middle child, Faith takes things a lot harder than the others, due to a murder she witnessed when she was just a child. She has the Darkness (what I feel to be depression and anxiety) inside her, and she turns to drugs to escape life.

The plot goes into stark detail about how easy it is to get hooked, especially when you feel like an outsider in your own skin. We see Faith as she struggles through school, experiences letdowns, and finally runs away. It is not a book for the faint of heart. Just as I thought things would finally go right for her, she falls back down the rabbit hole into the Darkness.

Graziani is known for her strong female leads, but this is the first time she has explored a plot like this. Faith is indeed strong, but as those who have battled depression or addiction, sometimes intentions are not enough to save you.

My heart ached for the girl as she existed, homeless, during a freezing Canadian winter. It seemed the world conspired against her until she was ready to give up. The author is adept at investing the reader into Faith’s story so as you read, her struggles become real, almost larger than life. One cannot help feeling devastated at how Faith gets so close to being loved, only to have it ripped away again. The plot turns are done realistically in the author’s capable hands – nothing is too removed from reality.

I yearned to be able to put my arm around this sad girl and tell her that everything was going to be all right. Sometimes it’s easy to take the path of least resistance; even though Faith showed early signs of strength, her circumstances made it easy to turn to drugs again.

This was an excellent read, with just the right touch of despair and joy. Graziani knows exactly what details to include so the reader never has that “suspension of belief” moment. As I read, I felt connected to Faith and her battles throughout the entire book. I can only hope that a girl who is struggling as Faith did, will read this and understand that there is love in the world for her. I also believe that there will be those who read this and gain strength from it.

Perhaps Graziani will be able to change lives with this book. I certainly hope so.

You can pick up your own copy [easyazon_link identifier=”1772600245″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews


The Doctors Daughter

A prominent psychiatrist’s daughter realises insanity can be found much closer to home when she unlocks secrets from the past that threaten to destroy her future.

It’s 1927, women have the right to vote and morals are slackening, but 23 year old Marta Rosenblit is not a typical woman of her time. She has little connection with her elder sisters, her mother has been detained in an asylum since Marta was born and she has spent her life being shaped as her father Arnold’s protégé. She is lost, unsure of who she is and who she wants to be. Primarily set in Vienna, this dark tale follows her journey of self-discovery as she tries to step out of her father’s shadow and find her identity in a man’s world. Her father’s friend Dr Leopold Kaposi is keen to help her make her name, but his interest is not purely professional and his motivations pose greater risks than she could possibly know. Marta’s chance encounter in a café leads to a new friendship with young medical graduate Elise Saloman, but it soon turns out that Elise has some secrets of her own. When Marta’s shock discovery about her family story coincides with her mother’s apparent suicide, Marta can’t take any more. None of the people she has grown to love and trust are who they seem. Her professional plans unravel, her relationships are in tatters and her sanity is on the line – and one person is behind it all.

Thanks to the author for offering me this book for review!

Prepare to be immersed in a dark world of offbeat people, misogyny and emotion. Marta is a tortured soul struggling to become her own woman and out from under her father’s thumb. Matthews paints an eerie image of a sheltered and awkward heroine, someone the reader can cheer for and support.

As she hesitantly takes steps toward independence, Marta must learn about love, sex, trust, and the truth, no matter how much this knowledge hurts her. Her circumstances seem to sweep her along, regardless of her wishes, as Leopold initiates her in the way of the world — that world being 1920’s Vienna, where most women have yet to find their own voice. Marta’s confusion and vulnerability is described flawlessly, as well as her demons lurking within.

As her relationship with Leopold mutates into a joyless union, Marta finds a way to visit her mother (who has been locked away in an asylum since Marta’s birth). The scenes with her mother are heartrending and melancholic, yet full of love. Marta’s confusion about the woman she has thought about all her life looms large as she confronts the allegations made by Leopold, and there, her questions begin. Soon after, the plot twists start and the action picks up a great deal. The “secrets from the past” alluded to in the book’s blurb are grim and shocking–Marta has decisions to make and we see her maturing and taking control of her life.

Despite the book’s dreary countenance, THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER was riveting. The attitudes of the times were described perfectly, and the characters were believably evil and self centered. The character of Marta personifies someone who has inner demons, borne all her life on her own. Her sisters shun her and she is motherless, hence she finds solitude in the dark places of her mind, and with physical solutions that enhance her somber nature.

I found this book evocative and captivating. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B00Y165LRQ” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].



Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

mother mother

Wow. Double wow. Anyone who knows a narcissist will cringe and nod at matriarch Josephine’s behavior, as she manipulates her way through her family’s life. Who is crazy and who isn’t? Nobody really knows.

Rose Hurst is missing. Violet and Will have been left behind to deal with the rage their mother, Josephine, has due to Rose’s disappearance. Will loves his mother so much, and so is only mildly uncomfortable at her alternate turns of dotage and anger. Violet, on the other hand, wants to get far away from her family. One night, as she is high on “seeds”, she commits a violent act against Will, causing Josephine to commit her to a mental hospital. Violet then tries to figure out what really happened that night, and tries to track her missing sister down as well.

The chapters are laid out such that the narration is done by Will and Violet, alternating chapters. Unfortunately, both narrators are unreliable and the reader gets to see different sides of the same story.

Josephine is a true narcissist, lying and stealing the spotlight away from everyone, even if it means turning family member against family member. With devoted son Will at her side, there isn’t anything that she can’t do. Even if she has to put a giant bowl of Death By Chocolate ice cream in front of Will to “help” him remember the night his sister attacked him.

“I need to make sure you can synthesize your thoughts about what happened. That woman who came by is going to make you explain it to her. If she can’t keep up with you, or you can’t explain your thoughts well, there could be big consequences,” says Josephine. Will does his best, but still becomes teary eyed, and his mother admonishes him to “stop overreacting”.

One of my friends has a narcissistic mother, and a weak father. As I read passages out loud to her, she shuddered and commented how true it all was. No one in her house was allowed to question things except her mother. Once I asked her why she never spoke up, and she told me it was just easier to let things go, so as not to upset her mother. She didn’t want to “rock the boat”, as it were.

A particularly interesting passage mirrors my friend’s thoughts: Violet is trying to tell her dad that he needs to stand up to Josephine. He tells her “You and I are very different people. I don’t see how rocking the boat is going to help matters much.”

Violet replies, “It’s not rocking the boat, Dad. It’s called communication. You’re allowed to ask questions. Other people do it all the time. Other people don’t live in fear of someone else’s reactions. They don’t relentlessly stress out about getting into trouble.”

Did I say WOW?? I loved this book, and I loved to hate Josephine. The plot goes along well, with enough mystery amongst the stress to keep you wondering where Rose is. The ending will shock you, and you will feel wrung out by all the manipulation, by everyone, to everyone. People like this really do exist, and it’s scary. Kudos to Zailckas to creating authentic characters with real problems.

Stop reading this blog post immediately and go read this. It will leave you a changed person.

Want to read more about Mother, Mother? Go to the Random House website. Want your own copy? Of course you do. You can purchase it here. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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