One of the joys of absence from domesticity is the luxury of guilt-free reading.
I can usually persuade myself that most things are essential because they are linked to some task. Long walk to plot a chapter because Dog needs exercise. Stopping at a cafe for coffee and cake because it is important to support local businesses. But reading is not something I can easily combine with other tasks (not being an audio book sort of fella) so, now that I no longer commute, my reading time has to be shoehorned around many other tasks and fight for space alongside the writing itself and these blogs.
As the year turned over a new leaf I said to myself: read more. And specifically read more Indie authors. Which I have done.
This then is the first of an occasional series of reviews of books I have enjoyed.
On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoire of Mental Illness by Lori Schafer.
It’s probably the longest title of any book I’ve read in a while. A mouthful. But that is the only thing I might change. The rest is completely compelling. We are taken on a journey through a series of episodes in Lori’s past that are both crisply painted and calmy observed while tearing at our hearts. The minute way in which she catalogues her mother’s descent into madness through the everyday and the mundane is chilling.
You cry out for a teacher or a social worker to intervene but no one believes this previously sane woman has morphed into a monster. Take ‘Bus Ride’. It seems like an exciting trip but increasingly the bizarre turns to the incomprehensible and then to the frightening before the inevitable pathos at the end.
I was completely engrossed. The epitome of a page turner and yet…. Boy is this a difficult read. In a way, of course, we know the ending from the title. We know some sort of freedom awaits. The tension arises from two places, for me. When will she be free? And what damage will this cause? Because surely, such events experienced at such a delicate and vulnerable stage of late adolescence must have an impact? You will have to read to find out.
The best, or worst, is saved for the last chapter: ‘Moments‘. The fact that what happens is described with such objectivity (I want to say ‘clinically’ but that suggests a coldness that is never present in her writing) says so much about the state of mind both of the Lori who experienced these events and her older self recounting them. It speaks mostly to her resilience. I won’t spoil it by saying anymore; you will not be disappointed.
Do read it. It will shock and amaze and, at the same time, give you hope that the indomitable qualities of the human as an animal means we are indeed hardwired to survive. Lori proves it in bucket loads.
Please check out her blog here (and her other writing)