Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects thoughts, emotions and even behavior. It’s severity is achieved gradually with symptoms that include hallucinations, altered reality and even disorganized thinking among others. Often when it is believed that the patient will be a danger to his or herself and others, they are institutionalized so the condition can be stabilized.
Max Happiness, written in first person narrative, is a series of thoughts as they run through the character’s mind. This character is schizophrenic and therefore presents many different ideas in quick succession. This presentation of thought provides insight into how people with this condition think and feel if they are misunderstood. As a person looking in from the outside, one would be compelled to quickly dispel any fantasies or notions that do not conform to reality. However, from this text it is clear that the approach used to do this matters quite a bit. The person in this book talks about how his ‘abilities’ albeit imagined have had him committed.
This book by Ali Ismail is enlightening, but not in an informational booklet kind of way. It is enlightening in that it gives the reader first hand experience of a schizophrenic’s train of thought. This is meant as an advocacy exercise for people with this condition. To raise awareness and shine a light on their plight. They really do believe the things they utter so there is need for some sensitivity when interacting with them. From the way the thoughts are structured, it is clear that this character is an otherwise sober individual.
The author has done well to introduce the character first before introducing the condition they suffer from. I think this gives the reader time to endear themselves to the character before they can start to sympathize. The author has also done a good job of making the prose so confusing and discombobulating that one feels like they are reading an anagram. The spontaneity of speech and thought is quite complicated. This provides a truly accurate picture of the patient’s thought process.
This book is a good effort towards advocacy for schizophrenia. However, it does require a bit of an edit. For example, use the right ‘there/their’ and so on. For such a short book, these little mistakes really do stand out.
Otherwise, this is worth taking the twenty minutes or so that you would need to read the contents. It is also worth the one minute it will take to recommend it to someone. It would be nice to expand it a little more to provide a more wholesome picture of the life of the character. This is just one day in the life.
Pages: 6 | ASIN: B07N2RHTW5
Heartbreaker, by Thomas Duffy, is a dramatic story about a young woman, Amber Robertson. The book opens in Brooklyn on Amber’s 19th birthday. Her birthday is eventful as it is the first time she is arrested (for stealing). While in jail, she meets Missy, another young woman, who has been arrested for prostitution. As Amber and Missy talk, Amber decides that the life of an escort is as good as any other (and could help her earn some much needed money).
Amber starts her business with some online advertising as an independent escort. Unfortunately, she immediately draws the attention of a pimp, Pete. He starts making promises of protection for a cut of Amber’s money. Soon, her landlord, wants to evict her, so she starts renting motel rooms.
Unfortunately, she soon faces bigger problems. She’s kidnapped by one of her clients and starts a sordid love affair with another that eventually makes a sudden turn into something even more frightening.
As you can imagine, this book is complex and not necessarily a feel-good story. Heartbreaker’s protagonist, Amber, goes on a wild and weird anti-heroic arc right from the beginning of the story and the audience can see how those early misfortunes lead to an increasingly painful and tumultuous life. She initially presents as both hesitant and impulsive; constantly not sure about what she wants to do, but will then make a sudden and foolhardy decision.
As a reader, there is some sympathy for Amber. She ends up in pretty bad situations. Anytime things start to look as though they may improve for her, it only gets worse. Yet, she is also frustrating. Her impulsivity sometimes leads her into her worst outcomes. For example, late in the story she takes bold, rash action. Of course, I am avoiding sharing the ending here to prevent spoilers, so you will have to read for yourself to see how Amber’s story fully unfolds.
This story, in its own way, forces the reader to examine the evil that can hide in people. The evil, within the story is almost infectious, capable of spreading from person to person, evolving and mutating along the way as it collides with new lives, who act it out in their own unique way. Amber’s progression through the story seems to demonstrate her methods for confronting the evil in her past and present. It shows how she, like anyone, is capable of becoming somewhat immune to bad acts, bad people, and a bad life. Like so many people, she acts out what she has seen and experienced by replicating pain onto others.
This book is well-written, but I felt there were some issues with the pacing. At points the story seemed to drag out, such as during Amber’s interactions with Miguel and Jeffrey. I think these could have been shortened up a bit without losing any essential character development. Heartbreaker is written for mature, adult readers, who enjoy dramatic characters in intense and emotional situations.
Pages: 184 | ASIN: B017UZDW02