Tag Archives: Dysfunctional Family

Book Review: January First by Michael Schofield

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Rating: B-/ I feel weird criticizing this book. The author has obviously been to hell and back, so pointing out his shortcomings feels a bit like kicking a puppy. January First is the alternately powerful and frustrating true story of the writer’s five-year-old daughter’s horrific struggle with childhood Schizophrenia and her subsequent diagnosis and treatment. The little girl, January, initially seems to be hugely creative and imaginative, and has a host of imaginary friends at her disposal. Later her father Michael discovers that the ‘imaginary friends’ are in fact paranoid hallucinations who, although sometimes comforting, force January to act out violently against her parents and baby brother, Bodhi. Continue reading Book Review: January First by Michael Schofield

Book Review: This Census-Taker by China Mieville

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Rating: C+/ I’ll start out by saying that I probably wouldn’t have read this novella all the way through if I wasn’t a big believer in finishing something before you review it. Even at just over 200 pages with absurdly large print, this book felt like a chore. There were entire scenes in which I really had to struggle to figure out what was happening, and This Census-Taker’s pretentious and vague narrative ensured that many readers would go through the whole book frustrated and unsure of what the book was actually about. Continue reading Book Review: This Census-Taker by China Mieville

Book Review: Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons

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Rating: B+/ People who know me know that mental illness has been a big part of my life since I was very little. I guess you could say that you don’t choose mental illness, mental illness chooses you. As someone with severe depression and an anxiety disorder, I kept thinking about in what ways the Barnes family from Sights Unseen were like my own family and in what ways they were different. In caring for somebody with a mental disorder like my parents have cared for me, mental illness becomes an inexorable part of your life, whether you like it or not. Love and frustration go hand in hand. Continue reading Book Review: Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons

Book Review: Push by Sapphire

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Rating: A-/  There is occasionally something cathartic about reading books that are real downers, if they are well done. A truly bleak book does something that a funny or light book can’t, which is to put the shittiness of the reader’s life into perspective. If nothing else, Push by Sapphire, an excellent book that was also made into an excellent movie called Precious, will make you want to hug your mom and buy her flowers. Whatever issues you might have had with her at the moment, by the end of this book you’ll probably be buying her free passes to the spa so she can treat herself. Continue reading Book Review: Push by Sapphire

Book Review: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

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Rating: B/ There isn’t much funny about Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, it’s a somewhat bleak and depressing book narrated by a ten-year-old unsupervised hell raiser who runs with a group of kids who are more Lord of the Flies than Our Gang. The lack of plot or traditional structure offered in this novel can be initially jarring and frustrating, but Paddy Clarke’s idiosyncratic, often tangential voice rings true and there is a real artistry hidden behind the seemingly random and directionless prose. Continue reading Book Review: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

Movie Review: Glassland (2014)

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Rating: A/ From the title I thought this movie was about methamphetamine, since ‘glass’ is a synonym for crystal meth. It turned out to be about a young man’s mother with a pretty serious alcohol problem. In fact, Jean (Toni Collette) has hit the bottle so hard that she’s slowly killing herself, and her ever-faithful son John (Jack Reynor) both tirelessly cares for her and enables her. Continue reading Movie Review: Glassland (2014)

Book Review: Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley

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Rating: B-/ It’s attraction at first sight for Nathan, the sensitive new kid in town, and his somewhat older classmate Roy. Living across from Roy in a house rented out on Roy’s property, fifteen-year-old Nathan is the victim of incestuous advances from his drunken father, and discovers sexual pleasure for the first time in the arms of the quiet, intense Roy. Nathan starts hanging out with Roy and his friends every day, chubby scaredy-cat Randy and ultra-aggressive alpha male Burke. But, unknown to to them both, Nathan and Roy are headed for unthinkable tragedy, in the form of a jealous act of violence. Continue reading Book Review: Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley