Janet once had the fleeting thought of not having kids. But after Brian came along, she was glad she never paid any real attention to that thought. He was her little angel: smart, sweet, full of life, infectious joy, and gusto. As Brian grew into a fine young man, Janet’s love for him also soared. Life seemed good, untill things took a turn for the worse. Brian encountered significant turbulence on his journey, one that would affect the lives of everyone that cared about him.
Brian’s Journey is a real account of the life of an impressive young man, narrated by his mother, Janet Dubrasky. It’s both a heart-warming and heart-breaking chronicle of how Brian lived, loved, and died and how those closest to him came to terms with his death. It’s a book on unconditional love, the beauty of family and true friendship, and healing for the bereaved.
Dubrasky writes simply and from the heart. She bares herself before us, helping us understand her struggles and delights as she elevates her beloved Brian and stands by him even in his most trying times. She doesn’t spare us any detail as she tells Brian’s story, and that made the tale more immersive. I didn’t just hear about Brian. I got to watch him grow and flourish. It felt like I accompanied him on his sojourn, and as his life came to an abrupt end, my heart sank.
One of my major takeaways from the book is that grief is hard to deal with, and we can’t just wish it away. We must learn to live with it and continue our journey and, as at hard as it might be, accept that those who’ve passed have completed theirs. It’s easier said than done. But someone like Dubrasky, who has already done it, is encouraging us to take the same path.
Based on her experience, Dubrasky believes there’s indeed life after death. That death is, in reality, people being reborn, resting from their struggles having learned all they were supposed to. She says we are all energy, and energy never dies. It only changes form. In other words, the ones we’ve lost are not really gone. They’ve just been transformed. This is vital for leading a life of empathy and compassion. We all need peeks into other people’s worlds so we can deal with those around us with understanding. Brian’s Journey offers profound insights into the pain of losing a loved one. Therefore, it can help us deal with similar personal issues and better empathize with others when they go through the same.
Pages: 222 | ASIN: B08F7CPDMT
Tags: author, biography, book, book review, bookblogger, brians journey, ebook, goodreads, grief, inspirational, janet dubrasky, kindle, kobo, literature, loss, memoir, motivational, nonfiction, nook, read, reader, reading, self help, story, suicide, writer, writing
An emotional memoir by a mother who shares the harrowing experience of losing her son to suicide. Brian was her first baby boy: from the very beginning, he was a quick learner who readily made friends. As a teenager and young adult, he grew into a talented artist and musician, who also had a facility for languages, loved food and travel. He lived life. In this emotional memoir, Brian’s mother tries to understand the sudden mental illness that took over Brian’s life and led to his suicide. She describes the failures of the systems that could have helped him. And she shares her efforts to heal—a difficult path that other grieving families know all too well.
2019 Independent Press Award Winner in “FANTASY.”
Nathan Andrews was a good man. It came as quite a surprise to him that he wanted to die.
The mysterious image of a woman haunts Nathan during a Near Death Experience. She was “perfect” and everything a man would seek within a life partner. With the simple utterance “Go back!” she forever conquered his heart.
Leaving a mental hospital after that, Nathan runs into an odd woman named Amanda. She barely knows English, doesn’t recognize the simple things, and finally confesses an all-important truth to him: She…is GOD!
After some subtle convincing of the claim, and confronted by a winged man named “Gabriel,” Nathan accepts this fantastic reality. A reality that will change his world, and the world of Mankind… FOREVER!
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GARDENING WITH GUNS by AJ WOOTTON is a memoir which delves into the relationship between the author’s rocky childhood and her present-day struggles. We meet Amber as she gets a great job and goes on vacation with her family. Things take a quick turn for the worse when Amber’s beloved father’s body is found–suicide. While dealing with this significant blow, Amber ponders traumas from her childhood, compares her relationships with her absent father and abusive stepfather, and parses out her many tumultuous relationships—all while wondering if her past might dictate her future, knowing that her spousal relationship is also on the rocks.
Although this is billed as a memoir, I’d say it reads more as a memoir-within-a-memoir, with the loose threads of the current day events—the death of a family member, followed by the arrangements for the funeral and resulting small family dramas—connecting the real meat of this book: the author’s deep dive into scenes from her childhood, some of which have had effects on her she has yet to realize. The prose reads like a stream of consciousness, which is sometimes an asset: it does make you feel like you are sitting inside the author’s head, listening to her own thoughts as she notices details and pulls apart her memories. The book does a good job of delving into the complexity of dark human drama—divorce, infidelity, suicide, abuse—while giving front stage to the inner motivations which drive our actions. The first few chapters feel like a cozy memoir, as the author chummily guides you through interviews and family vacations as one would a close friend. While some of her stories tend to ramble a bit, the author provides such detail in her work that it is impossible to get lost amidst the narratives. The importance of every scene included may be questionable, as it occasionally veers into redundancy; and the timelines can be confusing, as in at least one case we learn to live with a character and then, later on in the narrative, “meet” him. However, it falls together as a deeply-felt memoir; it is impossible to read this without feeling one knows the author extremely intimately. As the author weaves through her life as an abused child, an entrepreneurial tween, a self-conscious teenager and beyond, it’s clear that the heart of the story is the author’s relationships: those with her father, step-father, mother, siblings, friends, husband, and, ultimately, herself.
Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07KT98NQR
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Five Fathoms Beneath follows Ambrose as he must deal with the emotional and untimely death of his father. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
Without giving away too much personal information, I have experience with both cancer and bipolar disorder. That said, an author who chooses to write about mental illness is taking on a great responsibility–how we depict illnesses in fiction impact how people view those illnesses in reality. That led me to do research, and early in that process, I came across an article about the high incidence rate of suicide in the medical profession. There’s relatively little written on the topic, which isn’t surprising when you consider a mental illness diagnosis can adversely impact a doctor’s career. As someone outside the profession, however, I could write freely about the topic, without anyone assuming I was writing about myself or a colleague. And so I came up with the idea of writing a story about a family of medical doctors who deal across the generations with suicide and mental illness, especially depression.
This book deals with mental illness is a passionate and understanding way. Why was this an important topic for you to explore?
At the beginning of, “The Fault in Our Stars,” in his Author’s Note, John Green writes that it’s a fundamental assumption of our species that made-up stories matter. I think Green is absolutely correct because fiction informs how we view the world, and consequently, as writers, we not only have the power to entertain, but we also have the power to explore deeper themes and potentially change the world in a positive way.
We’re almost two decades into the supposedly “progressive” and “woke” twenty-first century, and mental illness is still being used as a pejorative or as a way to fear monger. And that’s even by people who frankly should know better. The stigma attached to mental illness dissuades people from seeking help. Not seeking help costs lives. And that’s something which impacts us all — whether it’s on the personal level when someone in our family is suffering, or on the societal level when we lose our best and brightest. We all should care about mental health because mental health is something which impacts us all.
My hope is Five Fathoms Beneath causes people to pause, rethink what mental illness looks like, and gets them talking about mental illness and suicide prevention.
Ambrose is a unique character that I liked watching change over time. What were some ideas you wanted to capture while creating his character?
I didn’t intend for Ambrose to speak for everyone with depression because depression exists on a spectrum and besides, everyone’s experience is unique and different. That said, with Ambrose’s character, the reader gets some insight into how a depressed person thinks. For example, when he snaps at his patients, it’s not because he’s an inherently bad person, it’s because he’s overwhelmed, exhausted, and struggling with his mental health. Ambrose also accurately depicts why it is difficult for members of certain professions to get help, and the serious impact and far-reaching effects an illness like depression can have on a person’s marriage, family, and life.
Beyond that, much of the novel deals with Ambrose trying to figure out where he fits in the universe and in the grand scheme of life. Ambrose wants to do good and be a hero, and he struggles with who he is and who he wants to be. In the end, he finds his way of being a hero in a way which plays to his own strengths and in a way which is his uniquely his own.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently in the process of brainstorming a sort of prequel to Five Fathoms Beneath, based around Ambrose’s father.
If Ambrose Serafeim’s life is not quite perfect, then it’s very good–he lives in picturesque Western Australia, he has a lovely fiancée, and he is well on his way to fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a physician. Brose owes no small part of his station in life to his famous father, Alec, a gentle and idealistic pediatric heart surgeon who lives by a simple moral code–do good and be good. Brose believes in his father and that code the way he believes in absolutes like oxygen or gravity. But when Alec shatters Brose’s perfect world by acting in a way Brose can neither forgive nor understand, Brose is left foundering amidst an existential crisis and clinical depression, unsure not only who he is, but who his father was.
That is until a catastrophic injury in a running race changes everything.
The road from that catastrophic injury leads Brose to the same heart-stopping precipice on which Alec once stood. Facing the possible end of his marriage and having seemingly lost his career, will Brose repeat his father’s terrible mistake, or will Brose blaze a new path forward, one where he finally realizes his potential to help others?
A twist on Loren Eiseley’s famous essay, “The Star Thrower,” Five Fathoms Beneath blends a realistic medical backdrop with a dash of magical realism to tell the heartbreaking yet ultimately life-affirming tale of a man’s quest to find his life’s meaning.
Posted in Interviews
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From the time he was eight, Ambrose Serafeim planned to follow his father’s career path- that of a celebrated surgeon known for his innovations, abilities, and compassion. Years later, Brose is a doctor but resembles little else about his dad. His father’s cancer, then suicide, the latter spurred on by a secret bipolar disorder, left Brose shattered and bitter. He was also left questioning everything he thought he knew about the man he revered so deeply. After reaching rock bottom in his own mental state, Brose is faced with a different kind of intervention that may finally answer his questions and help him face his demons.
Five Fathoms Beneath, J.R. Alcyone tells a heartbreaking story about the Serafeim family, their history of mental illness, and just how devastating that illness can be when left to its own devices. From the start, Alcyone describes the symptoms, stigma, and progression of bipolar disorder and depression with startling realism and even though the bulk of the story is set in the decades between the 1950’s and 1980’s, many of the issues are still relevant today. Because of this, it’s a book that can be hard to read. However, the subject is always treated with a sensitivity that never demeans or trivializes the issue at hand. The book moves smoothly as it depicts the passing of the years, even as the characters’ lives grow more tumultuous. Brose’s father, Alec, kept his diagnosis a secret because of the societal stigma attached to it, while Brose hides his largely out of denial. Although their reasons differ, both suffer greatly. As is the case in life, Alec’s suicide affected everyone in his life in some way and created ripples that only escalated over the years. After all those years, Brose eventually becomes a typical tragic figure, projecting all the outward appearances of success- high profile career, money, big house, etc.- while everything in his life is actually falling apart. True to life yet again, those around him suffer just as much or more. Even though the ending is formulaic, providing a sense of redemption even, the journey there is anything but as Brose’s path to healing begins in an undefinable place. All in all, it’s an intensely well written book that was hard to put down at any point.
By the author’s own admission, this is a book about mental illness. Although that theme is the brain that allows it to exist and function, family is at the heart of the story. As long as the reader knows him, Brose’s decisions, and his battle with his own depression, are framed within the context of his relationships. He is constantly checking himself against his father’s perceived shortcomings while trying to keep the appearance of normalcy for the sake of his family. Those relationships also provide an anchor.
This book was engaging, well paced, had extremely well written characters, and never patronized or hid from its difficult subject matter.
Pages: 389 | ASIN: B07JPGB8RY
Posted in Book Reviews
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Upon Broken Wings follows teens Andrew and Kiernan as they journey to the afterlife where they must face the dark consequences of their actions. What was the inspiration behind this emotional novel?
Reedy – Our inspiration came from the unexpected loss of a family friend many years ago. My writing of the original rough draft/screenplay was a way to work through my own shattered feelings.
Later with the help of my co-author, a/k/a my sister, we rewrote the story as the novel Upon Broken Wings. Our greatest purpose we decided together was to save a life, any life, many lives. Hence the the theme of finding hope all around us.
Wade – All stories are the same in that we have our main characters attempt to achieve a goal and at the same time, it is up to us, the authors, to throw stones at them every step of the way. Being the parent of an autistic child, I included some of my own experiences into the creation of young Andrew, and as such we threw some pretty hefty stones.
Andrew and Kiernan struggle with their own demons while also trying to support one another. What were some themes you wanted to capture with their characters?
Reedy – Finding hope in the most desperate situations, learning to trust our loved one and ourselves.
Wade – Reaching out when we feel the most alone.
I find that the best books often have parts of the author in them. Did you insert anything from your own life into this book?
Reedy – I grew up during the 70s and 80s in a Catholic family, hiding who I really was from, well, every one. So I was Kiernan.
Wade – As I mentioned earlier, through me experiences as the mother of an autistic child, I was able to define Andrew.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Reedy & Wade – We’re actually working on a three book saga, involving modern day druids, ancient deities and demons, and we are sticking with young adults who must discover who they are while saving the world. Were hoping to release the first early next year.
Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical.
As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
Posted in Interviews
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In the book, From the Shadows: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal, author Elizabeth Onyeabor introduces her audience to the sum of her parts, figuratively speaking, and takes the reader through the journey of her life. Readers meet the youthful, bright-eyed, big-hearted, trusting Beth who she has left locked away for decades, and her counterpart, a less trusting and icier persona, Liz, who she adopts abruptly at the beginning of her teen years. Liz is described as the mask that gets her through every day. Liz is the person that coworkers and social media contacts know. She is also painfully drowning in depression. Her only hope of becoming a whole person again is to reconcile with the girl she locked out so many years ago.
Onyeabor’s reflective journey is written as a narrative, a journal, and a collection of poems rolled into one piece. I personally prefer the narratives to the more metaphorical parts of the book. I can identify more with her real-life stories and experiences. However, I do recognize the importance of her poetry. It is cathartic for her. It is a therapeutic release. It is her outlet. It is necessary.
The author dives very deep into her depression, explaining its breadth and depth. She explains how she feels and why. She describes the magnitude of her sorrow, guilt, shame, obsession, self-deprecation, and even suicidal tendencies. I’ve been lucky enough not to be able to fully comprehend being in such a depressed state, but it gives insight to the reader about what it must be like. It is obviously a constant battle for someone dealing with this degree of depression to keep her head above water. I’m sure those who are prone to depression would take solace in knowing there is someone out there who understands, and that they are not alone in the quagmire that Onyeabor describes.
In my eyes, Onyeabor is your typical wife and mother who makes sure everyone is taken care of, everyone but herself. Also, typical of mothers and women in general, she places the blame for literally everything that could possibly go wrong in her entire family on herself. She is the fixer. She feels like anything that is broken happened by her own hands. She also feels like she has the responsibility of sweeping up the broken pieces, dusting them off, and perfectly gluing them all back together. The problem is that nothing is ever perfect. She continues to chase perfection anyway. Never hitting that mark feeds her depression.
Another identifiable theme throughout the book is striving for spiritual perfection. Readers will see themselves in this struggle as old as time itself. Good vs. evil. We are often our own harshest judges in this aspect as well. She holds herself to unreachable standards. That perfection thing never quite happens, and it leaves Onyeabor feeling like a sinner at times.
I did find myself at times questioning how someone who seemed to have it all could be so depressed. I guess that’s the point. Living in exotic places, vacationing in Paris, having a successful job, raising independent kids. Those things aren’t always enough. Those things are sometimes painted façades stretched across crumbling buildings. I also feel for her family. It couldn’t have been easy for them to never hit that perfect mark either, and to feel helpless. They wanted to help her. They just couldn’t. It’s a personal choice to stay in the dark caves you’re accustomed to or to step out into the light. It’s a long walk. A journey. I cheered her on for deciding to take those first steps.
I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is written well, but can feel repetitive. There are also a lot of breaks in the flow due to the poetry entries. Over all, I think it could be very useful to readers dealing with depression. It will give them strength to pursue their passions and hope that there are brighter days on the horizon.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01MTKFS9U
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