4/5 Stars: Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker

This book was powerful. It’s a non fiction written about an American family that had 12 children (the oldest born in 1945, youngest in 1965) – 6 of them developed schizophrenia. The book goes into incredibly graphic detail about the family and their happenings, if you’re struggling with mental health this might not be the book for you. It also touches on subjects of self harm, violence, and rape.

I found the entire thing fascinating, and the author did an incredible job of melding together both the stories from the family, and the medical side of things. It spoke passionately about the human beings involved, and clearly about the genetic research, and science behind it all. This was one of those rare books I couldn’t put down – but had a few flaws that are not exactly the fault of the author but more due to the subject. Of course over time family members have passed, and near the end of the book the relationship between the daughters and the mother is a point of contention for me. There is huge emphasis on the history and grudges that has nothing to do with the rest of the schizophrenia that was supposed to be at the forefront. The book also paints Mimi (the mother) in a less-than-favourable light, when it’s not her perspective that we hear from, so we can only guess at her reasonings and decisions. Because this part of the book relies on the daughters’ accounts of things, it feels a bit uneven. In any case, this is certainly a book that makes you think, and hopefully gives you a deeper understanding.

4/5 stars

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