July 15, 2009

Three books by Melody Carlson

Right now I am reading the latest book by one of my favorite authors, Melody Carlson, and I suddenly realized that I had never reviewed any of them here. Probably because I had read them all before this book club was started.


Like I said, Melody Carlson is one of my favorite authors. She's a terrific writer who tackles tough issues...mainly drug addictions and mental disorders...in a way that you come out understanding and being more sympathetic to the issues and to people who suffer from them, rather than becoming judgmental, as many people tend to do. She puts you into the minds of her characters, and you end up with a sense of what it is like to struggle with addictions and mental disorders.

The first book I read by her, several years ago, was Finding Alice. It is the story of Alice, a young college girl who had a bright future ahead of her until she suffers a mental breakdown and is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Terrified, her mother takes her to a church who tries to "cast out her demons" and when that doesn't work, she is forced into a mental institution.

One day she leaves the institution and lives on the streets. She hears voices and becomes paranoid, her mind becomes her worst enemy. Along the way she is taken in by a kind old woman who feeds her and clothes her, and ultimately leads her to a place where she finds true rest and treatment.

I really enjoyed this book because it was very well-written and very enlightening when it comes to mental illnesses. I really liked the fact that Melody Carlson confronts and challenges the belief that many Christians have that mental disorders stem from sin. It is that kind of mindset that hurts many people because they do not get the proper treatment. Definitely worth the read.

The second book I read by her was Crystal Lies, which deals with drug addiction, and the destruction it leaves in its wake. In this book we follow the story of Glennis, whose teenage son is addicted to meth. In the course of trying to help her son, she nearly loses herself and her family. It was a very riveting book, and you came away with a deep understanding of what it is like for a parent, a mother, to be helpless and frustrated with an addicted child.

The third book, Looking for Cassandra Jane, wasn't so deep and heavy. It was more lighthearted and followed Cassandra Jane as she looked for her place in the world in the early 1960's. After being shuttled from foster home to foster home, she runs away and joins a chippy cult. She follows them as they travel to California to start a commune. Her name is changed to Rainbow, and she soon finds out that life in the commune isn't what it was supposed to be. However, actually leaving the commune is more difficult than she expected it to be. Another great read by Ms. Carlson.

And the fourth, The Other Side of Darkness, I promise to review when I am finished. It is by far her best work yet! It deals with church cults and mental illness (this time in the form of OCD) and is a stark reminder of why I left "church" and why I am having a hard time going back.

Overall, I recommend all of her books. Well, I shouldn't say *all* since she has written well over 50 of them, mostly aimed at teenagers. But these I mentioned I wholeheartedly recommend.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I'm not sure if I could read "Finding Alice." It's one of my great fears as my sons head into their late teens/early twenties that one of them will develop schizophrenia. Highly irrational, I know, but that's a mom for you. "Cassandra Jane" does sound like something I should check out--I haven't developed a fear that one of my children will join a cult....yet.


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