Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The 10 P.M. Question by Kate De Goldi
This is one of those books that I don't even feel worthy to review. That I just feel convinced that I'm going to screw up royally in trying to even convey it's powerfulness in trying to talk about it. But I'm going to go ahead and try to talk about it anyway.....sigh.
It's so good y'all. The end. I wish I could just leave it at that. It's a book that examines "mental illness" if you will unlike many other fictional books I've read on the topic. So many books focus on mental illness being a problem. On it being the central character of the book. Of it being the reason that everything falls apart and a person's life comes crashing down on them. Now, I'm a counselor and I work at an inpatient psychiatric hospital and I'm CERTAINLY not saying that that doesn't happen. People with mental illness definitely don't have life as easy as others. And there can certainly be moments where life does come crashing down.
At the same time, I think we're so quick these days to throw out the label of mental illness on people. As part of the assessment that I have to do, I HAVE to give someone a diagnosis after meeting with them for 30 minutes. It's not an option to leave that Axis I (which is where Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia or Generalized Anxiety Disorder go) blank for me. As part of my job description I am to label someone with a diagnosis after meeting with them for 30 minutes. Every. Single. Person. I meet with. Even if they're mother died and she meant the world to them and they've become suicidal because they don't know how to live. For that, I put a label of Adjustment Disorder on the person.
I like the quote on the back of this book. Frankie asks his mom "Do you think I'm normal?" to which Frankie's mom responds "What's normal?". Frankie is a young teenager who lives in a family that you wouldn't typically consider normal. His mother hasn't left the house in years and doesn't intend to. He calls his father Uncle George. He has three obese aunts who have their own quirky ways. His pets have incredibly awesome but unique names. And Frankie himself has quite a few obsessive tendencies and pretty bad anxiety.
But what I loved so much about this book is that De Goldi never made Frankie "ill." He was just Frankie and he was so damned loveable from the moment we met him. His idiosyncrasies just happened to be different than your or mine, but I could give you a list of bizarre things I do that would probably make you raise one eyebrow. I'm sure if you thought about this, you could do the same for me ;) But just like ALL of us, it gets to be too much for Frankie, and that's when my heart broke for him so much.
There were a couple of pages towards the end of the book...the pages where he sobbed on his aunt's shoulders (if you've read the book, you know what I'm referring to) that just made this book an instant favorite. There was so much poignancy and truth in those pages and so much hurt in my heart for Frankie and for everyone else (including myself) that I've ever wanted to fix.
De Goldi has written quite the book here and it's a reading experience that I'll cherish for quite a long time. If you haven't read this one yet, well I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible. It's an important one and one I think you won't regret reading.