There is one thing people realize once they come to their “twilight” years. They have more of a past than a future. This is a time when they often take stock of their lives – good, the bad and the ugly. Writer, teacher and psychotherapist Mathias B. Freese is one these people, and now he shares his journey in his thoughtful memoir And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau.
Thoreau, of course is Henry David Thoreau author of the classic Walden Pond, which many of us probably read back in high school. For Freese, Thoreau is a muse who guides him during his journey of self-examination. Ultimately Freese is asking himself, not the cliché “What is the meaning of life?” but “What is the meaning of my life.”
And Then I Am Gone is divided into two parts. Part one sets up the tone for the book and provides several chapters focusing on moving to Alabama, finding happiness with Nina, a past love affair, his relationship with his children and his own childhood, his thoughts on Trump, writer Norman Mailer, the movie Citizen Kane, and Thoreau as therapy. Part two focuses on Freese’s new life in a new home, his journey with Thoreau and coming to grips with his own mortality.
Born and bred in New York City, Freese is a secular Jewish man now living in Alabama with his southern belle, Nina, an Irish-American Roman Catholic. Not surprisingly, Freese finds country life below the Mason-Dixon line a complete cultural shock and often has difficulty navigating a world so different from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, it does force him to come to grips with his past. Freese has had success with his professional life, but his personal life was often in shambles. Childhood was difficult with a mother suffering with mental illness. Freese has been married and divorced a few times, and is also estranged from his daughter but is closer to his son Jordan.
Okay, Thoreau. Just what is life all about, hmm? Freese wants to know, You wrote a damn book about it. Surely you’ve got the goods. Now pony up!
Freese has questions and Thoreau provides answers, which often leads to Freese having more questions. Needless, say this can be quite maddening, which often leaves Freese feeling downright pessimistic.
But as I kept reading And Then I Am Gone, I thought to myself. Well, maybe we’re not always meant to have all the answers to our questions after we ask them, whether we ask Thoreau, our best friend, a therapist, our horoscope or a stranger on the street. At times those answers will leave us not exactly happy or more confused than before. Or sometimes we will find clear, concise advice or wise counsel in a time of confusion (especially in one of the most messed times in our nation’s history).
I found Freese’s book to be a true inspiration as I go through my own journey of self-exploration and after year of great difficulty, self-care. There are times I look for answers and feel nothing but despair and at times I feel true joy. We’re not supposed to solve the mysteries life and just accept things are going to be murky. At times we live life to the fullest and at times we are slackers on the couch. we should just live our lives the best we can before we are shuttled off this mortal coil.
I also appreciated Freese’s vivid style of writing. He can be a curmudgeon but he’s also wise, funny, a true storyteller. And Then I Am Gone is a treasure of a book.
Now if only I had kept that copy of Walden’s Pond….
After reading Melissa Broder’s TMI memoir, So Sad Today, I really wasn’t up to reading another memoir, especially one dealing with the thorny topic of depression and other mental illnesses. Then I came across British author Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive while browsing the stacks at my local library. I read the book jacket and decided to check Haig’s book out…
…and I’m glad I did. Reasons to Stay Alive might be one of the most important books I have ever read on the issue of depression and mental illness, and one I am happy to share with my readers.
On the surface, Haig has a pretty ideal life. His parents are kind, compassionate and loving. His girlfriend (now wife) Andrea sounds like a delightful woman, one who chose to stick by Haig through even his darkest mental terror. Haig is educated, well-traveled, good-looking and a successful author. What does he have to be depressed about?
Well, often depression has no reason to exist; it just does. And sometimes there are reasons why people are depressed, which is something Haig also describes in Reasons to Stay Alive. But Reasons to Stay Alive is Haig’s story and it is painful to read at times. I often had to put the book down because at times I related to Haig way too much and have the dried up tears to prove it, and because I felt so much empathy for his struggles.
For Haig, depression was just something that was thrust upon him, almost like being an innocent victim of a violent crime. He couldn’t quite pinpoint why he felt the way he did. Even everyday activities from getting out of bed to doing basic ever day tasks were too much to handle. For a moment, Haig considered committing suicide while vacationing in Ibiza.
I’m just glad he never took that final step.
From these suicidal thoughts to writing Reasons to Stay Alive, Haig chronicles his struggles with depression with clarity that both chills and helps the writer gain insight on the cruelty of depression and how it not only affects the sufferer but those who live with the sufferer.
Haig writes about his anxiety and panic attacks. He is fully honest in how depression affected him physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He goes through a whole alphabet of emotions—sadness, rage, hopelessness, apathy, frustration, terror and other assorted less than ideal feelings. But he also writes of the glimmers of hope he gained and he acknowledged his suffering and went on a very difficult journey of recovery. And he does it without self-pity, psychobabble or being a self-absorbed narcissistic curator of TMI.
In Reasons to Stay Alive, Haig fully explains why depression is so misunderstood (even by those who suffer from it). With depression, one’s pain is invisible. You wonder what suffering from depressions says about you. You wonder why you can’t get out of bed, stop crying, worry tomorrow will be worse than today and beat yourself up for not being like everybody else.
Haig also describes certain aspects that some people with depression suffer from, including fatigue, low-self-esteem, irritability, crying jags, moving and speaking at a slower pace, and inability to experience pleasure.
Haig also tells the readers that people are depression are not alone. And names several notable figures who suffered from depression include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, and Buzz Aldrin. Creative types also suffer from depression. These people include Halle Berry, Jon Hamm, Billy Joel, Emma Thompson and Tennessee Williams. Even the ever bubbly ray of sunshine, Dolly Parton, has issues with depression!
However, Haig leaves us hopeful, sharing both his journey and the journey of others on various Reasons to Stay Alive which include everything from kissing (yes, to lots and lots of kissing) and reading books (yes, to lots and lots of books). Ultimately, he shares with us 40 pieces how to not only live but thrive while dealing with depression and also offers names of books that may help those suffer from depression that can probably be found at both your local library, on-line and at your favorite bookstore.
Reasons to Stay Alive is at times hard to read; dealing with my own depression is bad enough. But I am eternally grateful for Matt Haig and his truly valuable book. Reasons to Stay Alive should be read not just by those suffering from depression, but those who love someone with depression. Actually, Reasons to Stay Alive should be read by everyone!
I initially picked up Melissa Broder’s book So Sad Today because like me, Ms. Broder suffers from depression, and I’m always interested in how other people with depression deal with this very misunderstood ailment. Even further, Roxane “Bad Feminist” Gay gave So Sad Today a very positive review. I value Gay’s judgment so I started this book with a great deal of enthusiasm.
And this enthusiasm quickly evaporated from the moment I read the first chapter of So Sad Today, “How to Never Be Enough,” in which New York-based Broder, went into great length her mother’s difficulty in breastfeeding Broder to Broder’s fondness of eating her boogers.
And from there So Sad Today became a den of shock and vulgarity detailing every stomach-turning aspects of Broder’s life (like her mad fetish for vomit) from her childhood turmoil to her very open marriage, and then some. Clearly other people’s struggles with depression are vastly different than mine and everybody has their freaky-deaky kinks and quirks. I’m not completely without empathy and I’m certainly not close-minded when it comes to other people’s idiosyncrasies. We all have them…
Furthermore, I’m now questioning Gay’s particular taste in literature.
But let us proceed further into the madcap adventures of Melissa…
In another chapter, named “Love Like You Are Trying to Fill an Insatiable Spiritual Hole with Another Person Who Will Suffocate in There”-or as I like to call it “Sexting for Crummies,” Broder shares sexually-graphic texts between herself and a total stranger that are so horrific my eyes nearly fell out of their sockets. I am no prude; I have read my share of erotica and once wrote an article about sex toys. But these sexts had all the erotic lure of a Donald Trump, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich gang bang. Sorry, but I just have to share a few of sexts between Broder and this up-standing feller:
Him: “I want to fuck you in an air duct, flattened out with our whole bodies touching, at first slow and careful, then really hard until I come in you and the bottom of the duct falls out and we into a boardroom meeting at Walmart, like into a bucket of fondue.”
Broder later sexts to this charming lad: “I want u to take a picture of yr cum on the screenshot of ‘Melissa Broder likes this’ and send it to me, and I want it signed by the cummer.”
Hmm, who says romance is dead?
But wait! There’s more! In chapter, Broder tells you about every dimension of her lady parts, including one labia is slightly longer than the other. Hmm, you don’t say? After reading this I do believe I could pick out Melissa’s yoni out of a line up (hmm, that’s a sentence I never thought I would write).
Throughout the book Melissa waxes on about eating disorders, suffering from anxiety, musings on gender differences like men want sex and women want love, more bodily function gross-outs and a very graphic exchange about getting a “vaginal massage” from an older man. Of her bat mitzvah, Broder muses, “I had this weird intuition that if I could just make it to my Bat Mitzvah I could both prevent the Holocaust from happening again and also get all my friends back.”
Gee, during my first communion I mused, “I wish I could dip this bland Body of Christ into some guacamole and end the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.”
But just as I was getting ready to toss this book, Broder gets very real and touched me as a reader that made me feel tender towards her, not tetchy. In the chapter, “I Told You Not to Get the Knish: Thoughts on Open Marriage and Illness,” Broder discusses her open marriage with her husband (who she refers to as Ron Jeremy). In their open marriage, Broder and Mr. Ron Jeremy agree they may have sex with other partners as long as they remain casual and don’t turn these encounters into full-fledged affairs, and for the most part, an open marriage works for both of them.
And in this chapter, also Broder discusses in heartbreaking detail Mr. Ron Jeremy’s very serious and debilitating disease and how it affects their marriage. Broder’s commitment to her husband is both challenging and proves she is capable of deep caring and compassion. I really wish she would have devoted her memoir on this aspect of her life and her fierce love and commitment to her husband.
Broder is a fairly decent writer and possibly a very nice person in real life. Apparently So Sad Today started out as an anonymous Twitter feed, which later turned into this very book. Broder claims to be very self-conscious, riddled with anxiety and constantly wonders what people think of her, so it’s baffling why she’d be so open to such extremes via her book. But then again, in a world where people get famous by doing a sex tape, opine about the most private moments in their social media and Instagram their butts, I should probably not be surprised Broder probably thought TMI was the quickest way to get published. Sure, more may be less, but in 2016 more is MORE and the fast track to fame and notoriety.
Every once in while there comes a book that makes me want to shout from the roof tops, “Everybody, please read this book if you truly care about humanity and society!” Tim Wise’s book Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America, is one such book. And though it may sound melodramatic, I truly think Mr. Wise’s book is an excellent primer on exactly why our nation seems so skewed, confused and messed-up, especially during one of our most scary, yet important presidential election years ever.
Scholar, activist and writer, the aptly named Tim Wise, has focused on societal issues since college and one of his first jobs was working against former KKK grand wizard, David Duke’s presidential bid. Since then Wise has worked on behalf of many progressive causes and has written several books, Under the Affluence being his latest.
In 2016 Wise wonders why do we (as a nation and a society) shame the poor (and let’s face it, anyone who isn’t mega wealthy) while praising the super-rich? And what does that say about us and what impact is this having on society?
Wise calls this detestable movement “Scroogism,” and, yes, based on Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. And it is a theme that has shaped our thinking about the haves vs. the have-nots and have-lessers, much of it encouraged by big business, Wall Street, billionaires and millionaires, CEOs, the radical right political pundits, the current state of the GOP, conservative Christianity, mainstream media and often, ourselves. And yes, that includes the have-nots and have-lessers. And Wise offers evidence through nearly 40 pages of end notes to give gravitas to Under the Affluence.
Under the Affluence and its theme of Scroogism is divided into three well-researched, scholarly, yet audience friendly, maddening, heartbreaking and in the end, cautiously hopeful chapters. These chapters include:
- Pulling Apart-The State of Disunited America
- Resurrecting Scrooge-Rhetoric and Policy in a Culture of Cruelty
- Redeeming Scrooge-Fostering a Culture of CompassionIn Resurrecting Scrooge,
Wise carefully researches how in the 21st century the United States is a society that bashes the poor, blames victims, the unemployed and underemployed, embraces a serious lack of compassion and celebrates cruelty while putting the wealthy and the powerful on a pedestal. And Wise examines the origins of class and cruelty in the United States, the ideas of the Social Gospel and FDR’s New Deal, the myths and realities of the War on Poverty from its inception to Reaganism (and how liberals responded), and the concept how culture of cruelty affects who receives justice and who receives nothing at all except horrifically de-humanizing insults, both in rhetoric and reality. It is probably these two chapters that truly stirred my rage, and at times, I had to put Under the Affluence down and take a few deep breaths.But just as I was about to chuck Under the Affluence across the room and spend a week in the corner rocking back and forth, I read the final chapter, and felt a bit of hope. Perhaps, as nation things aren’t as bleak as they seem. In this chapter, Wise reminds us to look for possible roadblocks on the way of redemption. He also mentions that besides facts, use storytelling because behind every fact there is a very human face with a story that must be heard. He behooves us to create “a vision of a culture of a compassion” and how we can help communities to control their destiny.
Now, I am a realist. I know for the most part Under the Affluence is a book that preaches to the choir, especially in 2016. But maybe, just maybe, Under the Affluence will open minds, soften hearts and act an agent for, as Elvis Costello so aptly put it, “peace, love and understanding.” Under the Affluence is not only one of the most important books to come out in 2016; it is one of the most important books to come out in the 21st century.
Wise also takes a look at the world of the working poor and the non-working rich, the myth of meritocracy, horribly mean-spirited remarks, much of it coming from the radical right, including pundits and politicians, excessive CEO and big business pay, the devaluing of work that truly benefits all of society-nursing, teaching social work, protecting the public, improving our infrastructure, creating art, taking care of the elderly and disabled, and so on. And let’s not forget the very valuable work that doesn’t pay-parenting, eldercare, volunteering, etc.
In Pulling Apart, Wise takes a hardcore look at our current state of joblessness, wage stagnation, underemployment and how they affect us in this stage of “post-recession recovering” America. He investigates today’s realities and the long-term effects of income and wealth inequality. Wise contemplates who and what caused these problems and how race, class and economics are involved.
“Well, I’m waiting.” – Bookish Jen
To those of you who aren’t familiar with Ted Nugent, consider yourself lucky. But I’m going to fill you in. Once upon a time Ted Nugent was a supposed rock star with one notable hit that I can actually remember hearing on the radio, “Cat Scratch Fever.” Other songs amongst Teddy’s songbook include “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” “Stranglehold,” and “If You Can’t Lick ‘Em… Lick ‘Em.”
“Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” Stranglehold,” and “If You Can’t Lick ‘Em… Lick ‘Em?” you ask with a shudder. Yes, my lovely readers. Who says romance is dead?
Nowadays, Teddy Boy, is pretty much a nostalgia act for the Tea Party set. And he also fancies himself a political pundit who writes commentary for such publications like World Net Daily. He’s also written a few books, including Ted, White and Blue-The Nugent Manifesto, which was published just before President Obama was elected in 2008. Ted, White and Blue features Ted’s take on taxes, politics, immigration, education, healthcare, and his favorite topic, guns. And not surprisingly, Ted’s manifesto is delivered with all of the wit, wisdom and nuance of an AK47. But instead of writing a review I will showcase Ted’s selected photographs found within the confines of Ted, White and Blue, complete with Ted’s very own words, and my responses written with a poison Jen, responses more Dorothy Parker than Bonnie Parker. And keep in mind, as a country we are better off thinking red (I’m a redhead) than thinking Ted.
Black guy on the left, “Bitch, please.” Black guy on the right, “You are a white dude from Detroit. Shut up.” Lion in the middle, “This guy’s dick is in my ass! Help!”
Large cigar, huge gun between his legs. Clearly Ted is lacking something.
This is what you get when you Google, “Right wing performance art at Coachella.
Alternative to the National Rifle Association, the NRA. Nugent Runs Amok.
Sadly, the parents of Newton, Massachusetts who lost their beautiful children on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary will never get to put their arms around their deceased children. No parent should ever have to bury child, and never should a parent have to bury a child due to senseless gun violence.
No Ted, this is a perfect American family.
America is supposed to be the richest nation in the world, right? No way do we have people living in strict poverty, trying to survive on the barest of bones, right? America isn’t some “primitive” third world country, right?
Well, not exactly. In America we have citizens from the largest of metropolises to the most rural of communities struggling to live on a mere two bucks a day. And their lives are fully explained in Kathryn J Edin and H Luke Shaefer’s eye-opening and maddening book $2.00 A Day: Living On Almost Nothing in America.
In the 1990s, politicians, including President Clinton, figured the “War on Poverty” from the 1960s had quite worked out. Far too many families were living on public assistance. Thusly, welfare reform was implemented thrusting many families (often helmed by single mothers) off the welfare rolls. Now, this was deemed a success during the 1990s because of a strong economy and a tight labor market.
But as we know, the economy fell to pieces in 2007/2008, countless people lost their jobs and finding work became hugely difficult. Hence, many people fell into poverty (including those had been living comfortable middle class lives).
But these people weren’t mere statistics we heard about and read about. They were real people living on very little, and using methods, some legal, some not so legal to survive.
In 2012 Edin and Shaefer traveled around the country interviewing various families who were living on very little money. They interviewed families in Chicago, Cleveland and rural areas in the Mississippi Delta. These people’s stories were both unique and similar, and I hope are listened to with an open mind.
Why do we have so many people living on so little? Now part of it is due to the nature of low-wage work, much of it in the service sector. And even in the service sector, many of these jobs have countless applicants. I know this to be a fact; several years ago I applied for a job at a small marketing agency. This agency had over 250 applicants apply for this position. I can only imagine how many applicants apply for positions at much bigger organizations.
And because employers receive so many applications, they can easily move onto another candidate if they can’t reach another. Some of the poor in this book live in homeless shelters and therefore have difficulty being reached by would be employers.
But even those who aren’t in homeless shelters, lived in substandard homes and apartments. Many of the families lived in cramped spaces with many relatives. Some told horror stories of crumbling abodes that slumlord’s ignored. And some even mentioned dealing with various forms of abuse they dealt within their homes
When employed, those profiled spoke of altered schedules (often at the last moment) and employers concerned with the bottom line cutting workers’ hours. Some of these people also worked more than one job, which cut into time they could spend with their families. The poor also had to deal with wage theft and truly awful bosses. And then there were people who had physical and mental issues that made being employed nearly impossible. Some of them were on disability but even disability checks didn’t stretch far.
Many of these people had SNAP (often called food stamps), which was pretty much the only access they had to a public safety net. And many spoke of relying of charity and food pantries. But in rural places, it was difficult to find these places.
So how do these people survive? Selling one’s plasma is a popular tactic, as is selling one’s food stamps. And some mentioned selling sex to make a few bucks to live on.
Many of them live with family members and friends and pooling their various resources. One woman with a car offers her services to help people get around.
And yes, far too many go without. People mentioned skipping meals and not purchasing the basic necessities like buying underwear or having electricity or running water.
But there were places where those profiled could find comfort, libraries being named as one. Some found comfort in their churches or amongst family, friends and their communities. And those who could find good charities, also felt comfort.
Now what can be done? Well, making others aware of these people’s plights is key and this slim volume helps do that. On a personal note, I think it’s important to not see these people as “others” but as our fellow human beings, showing empathy, not scorn. Yes, we could say they shouldn’t have kids if they are so poor and why didn’t they get an education? Sure, but not having children and getting an education is no guarantee that one won’t fall into poverty. Even those of us who “did everything right”-had children when established and in a good relationships, received an education, developed skills and worked hard, may have to worry about falling on hard times. These people are not lazy, most want to work and contribute to society, and $2.00 mentions how both the public and private sectors can do join efforts to make this happen.
$2.00 is an important book at a very crucial time, especially as we get closer to the 2016 Presidential election, and a book I highly recommend.
Meet Matt Duffy, the protagonist of Michael Adelberg’s novel Thinking Man’s Bully. His son, Jack, is getting into trouble for bullying his peers. Jack has also attempted suicide after Matt thwarted a teen-age romance. Things are not going well for Matt and his wife encourages him to see a psychiatrist. Matt is not crazy about the idea but thinks maybe getting some type of therapy will help him deal with his problematic, troubled son. What doesn’t expect that seeing a shrink will force him to confront the own harsh reality of his past and how it has impacted his somewhat less than ideal child-rearing practices.
Matt’s therapist expects him to do much more than lie on his couch and talk. No, instead, she expects him to email her stories before each session discussing his past and how it may have led to this moment in his life. She also thinks that may also help Matt discuss his feelings and emotions that he might have too much difficulty discussing face-to-face.
Through these emails we learn about some very disturbing, yet relatable details of Matt’s past. Like many teenagers, Matt hung out with his friends, tried to survive high school, navigated the rocky terrain of teenage romance and indulged in the pop culture of the day (personally, as a card carrying member of Generation X-er, I loved the book’s references to the music, movies and television of the 1980s).
But Matt soon realizes that maybe Jack’s bullying didn’t come from nowhere. Maybe the apple didn’t fall to far from the tree. As Matt examines his wayward youth he recognizes that he, too, spent a great deal of his teenage years bullying his classmates. Sure, a lot of it was because he was an immature jerk. But a great deal of Matt’s bullying was due to wanting to impress his BFF nicknamed Dog. Dog was the alpha male to Matt’s more beta male style, a leader who Matt was all too willing to follow.
Some of Matt and Dog’s adolescent shenanigans are just harmless pranks. But far too many of them were cruel and vicious and made my blood both curdle and boil. I can only imagine how their bullying of their peers would be worse in today’s age of social media.
As a teenager, Matt thinks his bullying makes him a cool guy and it makes him put Dog on a pedestal. But Dog has serious issues that go far beyond being the school bully and it isn’t long before these serious issues lead to dire consequences for Dog. And these consequences affect Matt long after the age of the mullet, acid-washed jeans and when MTV actually showed music videos.
Both these emails and Matt’s subsequent conversations with his therapist allow him to make a connection between his teen years and his experiences as a father. The connection isn’t easy, and makes Matt very uncomfortable. But he knows he has to go through this so he can deal with Jack and himself, and possibly grow up as a human being. Will Matt become the perfect father? Well, of course, not. But he is committed to helping his son by helping himself.
Being a victim of bullying myself (and sometimes being a bit of a bully at times), I expected to hate Matt Duffy. And at times I thought to myself, “What an asshole!” But I also saw Matt as a very real, complex and vulnerable person, filled with both good and bad qualities that are a part of the human condition. In the end, I felt empathy for Matt and his issues, both past and present.
Much of my empathy has to do with Adelberg’s rich and vivid writing style. Both of Matt’s emails relating the past and his present are written with such a three-dimensional clarity that had me drawn to Matt’s life. They also often made me think about my own misspent youth and how it is still affecting me today. You don’t always get this from a novel.
Thinking Man’s Bully is one book I had a difficult time putting down and was a bit bummed when it ended. Thank goodness Michael Adelberg is a prolific writer. If Thinking Man’s Bully is any indication of Adelberg’s writing talents, I’m definitely going to read his other books.
Adolescence. It sucks. And it sucks even more when you’re struggling with a mental illness. Meet Cameron Galloway from Edward Averett’s young adult novel Cameron and the Girls. He’s 14 years old and suffering from schizophreniform disorder. Schizophreniform is a subset of the more serious Schizophrenia. Cameron has brief moments of hallucinations that he tries to control with medication.
Cameron takes special classes at his school that are designed for kids with mental health issues. It is here where Cameron strikes up a friendship with a girl named Nina. Nina suffers from depression and lives with her mostly absent and neglectful mother. Cameron and Nina grow close and support each other in a world that often looks at the mentally ill with guarded judgment.
At this time, Cameron also decides to stop taking his medication. Before long, two voices take up residence in his head. One is the Professor, a soothing presence who gives Cameron advice. The other voice is the Girl, a voice clearly based on Cameron’s friendship with Nina. Cameroon soon calls the girl his girlfriend.
Instead of being freaked out about hearing these voices, Cameron is comforted. They help guide and reassure him as he navigates his way through school, his friendship with Nina, and his relationship with his family. Cameron’s elder sister, Beth, tries to be protective of her little brother, but she knows he must take care of his mental illness. And when Cameron’s parents find out Cameron is no longer taking his medication, they flip out and struggle desperately to get their son to start taking his resume his medication.
But being a teenager, and finding the voices in his head, especially the Girl’s, soothing, not disturbing, Cameron refuses. The voices seem to provide him wise counsel and make him feel less alone. He’s convinced taking his medication will strip him of all that he believes he has gained from the voices. It isn’t long before he’s being dragged to the psychiatrist by his concerned parents and forced to take his medication through injection.
Cameron’s relationship with Nina deepens, but it also spirals nearly out of control as Nina’s depression gets worse and she’s often in a catatonic state. Will Cameroon and Nina situation become truly dire or will they find the coping mechanisms they so desperately need?
Cameron and the Girls is a sensitive and introspective novel that shows young people as they really are. They can be reflective, kind and compassionate. They can also be annoying, rebellious and difficult. This book also shows how mental illness can affect someone negatively without frightening us into thinking these young people will go off the rails and become dangerous and violent. Author Averett is a long-time psychologist working often working with child and adolescent mental health issues so he knows what he writes about. Cameron and the Girls may be a novel aimed at the teen crowd, but I think adults will find value in it and in learning Cameron’s story.