Post Script: In Two Minds – Gordon Parker

In Two Minds

In Two Minds

A Novel

Professor Gordon Parker

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384192

 

Description:

I can more or less guarantee that you know someone for whom this book will be important and inspiring. There’s a very strong chance that person will be you.Stephen Fry

 

Dr Martin Homer is a GP with a naturally sunny disposition. Honourable, attentive and trusted by all of his patients, Martin has only ever loved one woman – his wife, Sarah.

 

When his mother dies suddenly, Martin’s comfortable life is thrown into complete disarray. After sinking into the black dog of grief and depression, he ascends to new heights in a frenzied, manic high. Now, he’s never felt better!

 

In between riding his new skateboard around the streets at night and self-medicating from his stash at work, the artificially elated and self-entitled Martin crosses paths with Bella, a beautiful and sexual young woman profoundly damaged by trauma of her own.

 

In Two Minds takes you on a quirky, rollicking journey that unveils the complexities of mental illness with wit and warmth. Gordon Parker’s impressive career in psychiatry reveals itself through extremely rich descriptions of depression, bipolar and borderline personality characteristics.

 

My View:

 

This is an excellent portrait of mental illness wrapped in a personal narrative that is highly relatable and so engaging you will not be able to put this book down!

 

Martin’s Early Story (yes that is the chapter heading) was so sad – a child who tries to please everyone, a peacekeeper, a child carrying a burden of guilt…most who read this introduction to Martin’s life will feel compassion, sadness and perhaps a little anger directed at the adults in his life. Some will anticipate that the roads Martin will travel in the future will be potholed with mental health issues, and they will be right.

 

 

Bella’s introduction – such a revelation – her personality is uncanny in its familiarity, I recognise the “Bella” in so many women I have worked with/for – such damaged souls are everywhere! The author does not provide the same amount of personal history and  information about Bella or her early life or the events that shaped her thought processes, we don’t hear Bella’s story or her voice, so much as see her reactions to the world around her and the damage she inflicts on herself and to those close by.  We see Bella via her actions, her behaviours, her reactions, her manipulations… the author has created an excellent device to show how mental illness, (including depression) can affect individuals in different ways.

 

The two protagonists however are equal in the amount of pain they feel.

 

What happens when these two damaged individuals meet is devastating, yet like the drivers on a road compelled to watch the scene of an accident, we are compelled to read on, to watch this crash as it happens; brutal, destructive and bloody.

 

This is an excellent, thought provoking read! The author has created a captivating narrative written with a touch of dark humour and wit that will influence the way you perceive/judge the people around you. Gordon Parker has taken a socially taboo illness, shone a light on it, personalised it and thereby provided opportunities for further discussion.   Well done Gordon Parker.

 

 

PS

 

A question for the author – did you deliberately create one empathetic protagonist (Martin) and one not so for a reason? Perhaps to highlight the many faces of depression/mental illness and the way society responds?

 

Post Script: No Name Lane – Howard Linskey

Great Twist!

No Name Lane

No Name Lane

Howard Linskey

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780718181543

 

Description:

The hunt for a serial killer unearths an unsolved cold case from over sixty years ago.

 

Young girls are being abducted and murdered in the North-East. Out of favour Detective Constable Ian Bradshaw struggles to find any leads – and fears that the only thing this investigation will unravel is himself.

 

Journalist Tom Carney is suspended by his London tabloid and returns to his home village in County Durham. Helen Norton is the reporter who replaced Tom on the local newspaper. Together, they are drawn into a case that will change their lives forever.

 

When a body is found, it’s not the latest victim but a decades-old corpse. Secrets buried for years are waiting to be found, while in the present-day an unstoppable killer continues to evade justice…

 

 

My View:

A very engaging and compelling story of murders -past and present, secrets and the huge burden that guilt imposes on our lives and mental health. I liked that this book was more than just a murder mystery; there were interesting characters and relationships – work and personal, that we might all be able to relate to. Ethical behaviour was also spotlighted. There was also plenty of local history and commentary on the social mores of the time of the older murder and a glimpse of how the past can and does effect the present.

 

This narrative presents a few interesting scenarios – the main investigators in this instance are the journalists, more so than the police. They have the energy, they are not bound/restricted by the same protocols as the police and they have a connection with the community which gives them opportunity to discover more about those concerned with the crimes – past and present. I liked the factor of redemption that played a vital role in this narrative.

 

 

And the twist at the end in unique and surprising- I did not see this coming!

Post Script: Saving Grace – Jane Green

Life is not about walking on eggshells.

Saving Grace

Saving Grace

Jane Green

St Martin’s Press

ISBN: 9781250047335

 

Description:

Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue. To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity. With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.

Powerful and riveting, Saving Grace will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow Grace on her harrowing journey to rock bottom and back.

 

My View:

I liked that this narrative touched on a lot of issues relevant to modern society – the over prescription of anti-psychotic drugs, homelessness, mental illness and domestic violence however I felt the style needed to be a little more hard hitting and that the character Grace, as a supporter/board member of a women’s shelter should have been able to recognise the violence in her own life and do something about it, Grace clearly identifies the bullying behaviour. The character Ted is an overbearing bully, all who know him agree and Grace panders to his needs to avoid upsetting him, to avoid the scenes, the rages, the verbal abuse….she clearly is party to the cycle of domestic violence – the bullying followed by the “makeup” happy times…and yet she does nothing, she hides, she avoids him, she keeps herself busy working at the shelter and without giving away any spoilers when the crunch comes she still sees her marriage as perfect. I am afraid my feminist indignation was lit by the way that Ted was so easily let of the hook – that his bad behaviour was tolerated, not challenged, effectively endorsing his bad behaviour. This narrative did not work for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: In The Blood – Lisa Unger

An incredible psychological drama!

In the Blood

A Novel

Lisa Unger

Touchstone

ISBN: 9781451691177

 

Description:

SOMEONE KNOWS LANA’S SECRET—AND HE’S DYING TO TELL.

LANA GRANGER LIVES A LIFE OF LIES. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to control­ling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her where­abouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell.

Lisa Unger’s writing has been hailed as “sensa­tional” (Publishers Weekly) and “sophisticated” (New York Daily News), with “gripping narrative and evocative, muscular prose” (Associated Press). Masterfully suspenseful, finely crafted, and written with a no-holds-barred raw power, In the Blood is Unger at her best.

My View:

Mysterious, full of plot twists and turns, lies, secrets and more lies…don’t believe that anything is as it first appears.

WOW! That pretty much sums up how I feel about this book and this author, WOW! This was an incredible read – I am giddy with anticipation and apprehension from the journey I have just taken on this twisty winding road that travels through a countryside littered with broken people, broken lives, lies and deceit. This was one rollercoaster of suspense and intrigue; in the end I could not trust anything that I had read…so much of my understanding of this narrative was turned on its head so many times…just incredibly well written and thought out. Love , Love Love this book and will definitely add this author to my must read list

Post Script: The Boy Who Could See Demons – Carolyn Jess-Cooke

The Boy Who Could See Demons

A Novel

Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell

Delacorte Press

ISBN: 9780345536532

 

Description:

Bestselling author Carolyn Jess-Cooke has written a brilliant novel of suspense that delves into the recesses of the human mind and soul—perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Lisa Unger. The Boy Who Could See Demons follows a child psychologist who comes up against a career-defining case—one that threatens to unravel her own painful past and jeopardizes the life of a boy who can see the impossible.

Dr. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, is called in to work at MacNeice House, an adolescent mental health treatment center. There she is told to observe and assess Alex Connolly, a keenly intelligent, sensitive ten-year-old coping with his mother’s latest suicide attempt. Alex is in need of serious counseling: He has been harming himself and others, often during blackouts. At the root of his destructive behavior, Alex claims, is his imaginary “friend” Ruen, a cunning demon who urges Alex to bend to his often violent will.

But Anya has seen this kind of behavior before—with her own daughter, Poppy, who suffered from early-onset schizophrenia. Determined to help Alex out of his darkness, Anya begins to treat the child. But soon strange and alarming coincidences compel Anya to wonder: Is Alex’s condition a cruel trick of the mind? Or is Ruen not so make-believe after all? The reality, it turns out, is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.

A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Boy Who Could See Demons sets out to challenge the imagination and capture the way life takes unexpected turns. In the best storytelling tradition, it leaves the reader changed.

My View:

A fascinating read! I was totally engaged in this story, a story that charts a passage through an alien landscape (Ireland, “The Troubles” and mental illness), territories that are painted in the grim shades of reality yet this is a picture that offers an optimism that speaks of healing and better times ahead.

The characters depicted in this book are both realistic and empathetic. Alex’s mother is depressed, self destructive and cries out for help and yet amongst this gloom her light shines on the son she is proud of, she passionately believes in his ability to rise above the bleakness of his surroundings; a rundown council flat, a life where money is scarce and happiness is even rarer, where onions on toast are gourmet delight. Alex is “different”; there are hints he may be autistic, he may have post traumatic shock, he may be schizophrenic. What Alex is, is talented, innocent, brilliant, comedic and knowing beyond his years.  And he can see demons! Dr Anya Molokova is a hero, has risen from her beginnings in poverty, is a talented academic and is the mother of child who had early onset schizophrenia, a child who had taken her own life. How could we not be warmed by her character and her determination to help others? And the minor characters are just as interesting and empathetic.

Jess-Cooke offers the reader a compulsive read; a real page turner. I was convinced by the quiet voice of this sensitive 10 year old, Alex, that demons were real and that he could see and talk to them! I was prepared to believe that Alex had a unique ability such is the convincing writing of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. I was not prepared for the final chapters! What a magnificent twist. I certainly did not see this coming; I could not have predicted this ending. Bravo!!!