Posted by Literary Titan
Two Years of Wonder is a memoir detailing your journey towards recovery after an attempted suicide. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Initially writing the book was part of my healing process. Post hospitalization I didn’t have too many intentions of ever publishing it, just to complete it as a way to give a shape to what I had been through. But then as I began to share it with people who were curious about it they kept saying to me “this story has to reach a wider audience.” Then when the kids themselves told me they wanted their stories shared, I felt an obligation to finally get it out there.
Throughout this book you interweave stories of orphan children you helped in Nairobi. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in this book from their stories?
Resilience and hope. While the book contains some of the harrowing experiences of the kids which–I know–are painful for a lot of people to read, throughout even their worst experiences so many of these children demonstrate such a fierce determination to survive and even thrive. They do even to this day which is why I wanted proceeds from the book to go towards their further college educations so they can continue to have some of the same chances I had.
I found this book to be inspirational. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I want to shine a light on the suffering of these children and how that is a stand in for the suffering all around us. As Dr. Helene Gayle says in the foreword, we don’t need to go to Kenya to find suffering an inequality our world today. A lot of us can just walk down the street. To that end, I hope it makes everyone a bit more compassionate, whether its for vulnerable children in Africa, at our southern border, or the addict/alcoholic on the street corner.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be available later this summer. It is called REAPER MOON: RACE WAR IN THE POST APOCALYPSE. It is my attempt to take on the toxic nature of white supremacy and white nationalism which have become resurgent in the United States right now. Link to the preview page on my website is here: Reaper Moon — Tenebray Press.
September 25, 2012 Ted Neill picked up a knife to cut his wrists open and kill himself. Post hospitalization and treatment for major depressive disorder, he wrote Two Years of Wonder, a memoir based on his journey towards recovery. In it, he examines the experience that left him with such despair: living and working for two years at an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya.
Neill interweaves his story with the experiences of Oliver, Miriam, Ivy, Harmony, Tabitha, Sofie, Nea, and other children, exploring their own paths of trauma, survival, and resilience. In prose that is by turns poetic, confessional, and brutal, Neill with the children he comes alongside, strive to put the pieces of their fractured lives back together as they search for meaning and connection, each trying to reclaim their humanity and capacity to love in the face of inexplicable suffering and loss.
About the Author: In addition to his time living in Kenya, Ted Neill has worked for CARE and World Vision International in the fields of health, education, and child development. He has written for The Washington Post and published multiple novels. His share of proceeds from Two Years of Wonder are donated to the children featured in its pages as well as other Kenyan based organizations that support vulnerable children and youth.
Posted by Literary Titan
Upon reading through the first page of Two Years of Wonder, it becomes immediately apparent that the story is one of trials and tribulation. The author, Ted Neill, begins his story conveying feelings of helplessness and despair and then backtracks, taking the reader through all the various difficult experiences that led him to the point of nearly killing himself. It is a long and complex collection of stories, each showing a different part of Neill’s experience as well as why the work he was doing was so important.
Neill starts his journey as a young man from a good university having a desire to do something more. Then, after getting some public aid experience under his belt, he ends up in The Rainbow Children’s Home in Kenya working with children suffering from the HIV/AIDS virus. The “long and complex collection of stories” are each focused on another child in their particular battle with the virus.
Neil spent approximately two years in Kenya working with the children from The Rainbow Children’s Home, and we observe through his methodical storytelling how he is changed through his shared experiences with these children. The result is a feeling of hopelessness and about clinical depression for the author. In part, Neil’s battle for mental health juxtaposed with the challenges facing the children he worked with is what makes this story so unforgettable. You cannot help but empathize with each and every character in the chapters of this book, including the storyteller himself.
Readers expecting a simple, straightforward approach to the narrative behind the story might be in for a little bit of a surprise. While the author does take an autobiographical approach to relaying is story at times, much of what we learn comes from the individual stories being told in parallel. Each piece of the story informs the greater message, and the more we understand about that greater message the more meaningful the smaller stories become. The writing feels genuine and heartfelt, making it easy to get pulled into Neill’s world.
This book easily deserves five out of five stars for its brutal honesty, impeccable storytelling, heart wrenching journey into the lives of so many sufferers, and for the author’s ability to make readers understand what the children in The Rainbow Children’s Home lived through between 2002 and 2004, in Kenya. It is no easy task to relay the extremes of the human experience while also showing the delicate nature of human interaction. Ted Neill’s work on “Two Years of Wonder” is certainly inspiring.
Pages: 282 | ASIN: B07JJQKZGF