Sunday, December 11, 2016
I'm always happy to review a fellow Word Weaver's book. Linda D. Schoonover wrote An Illusion of Normal
Linda D, Schoonover is a woman on a mission to bring to light the affects mental illness can have on a family and especially children in her book, An Illusion of Normal.
I'm drawn to this story as at the beginning it's through the eyes of a child. Oh the pain that some children have to endure on this earth as emotions and chaos reign because of mental illness. It looked like at first, Linda might have an escape route via being sent to her grandmother's house for a season.
I love how the little girl watches her grandmother in all aspects of life. She wonders why she prays certain ways and is very vocal about the only way she's heard God's name used previously. The conversation in Chapter Seven between Linda and her grandmother was priceless. Chapter Eight wrenched my heart as sometimes, I've found the familiar home of a grandparent feels like balm to a child's heart.
What a powerful ending for Chapter Nine:
"God, please help me not be scared. I don’t know what’s wrong with my mother and I don’t know for sure if anyone is outside my window, but if you’re there, could you please help me?
I shut my eyes and tried to ignore my mother waiting quietly in the dark for her killer’s return."
In Chapter Ten the phrase,
"A knot set up camp in my stomach. The Ferris wheel stopped at the top and I hung on the mercy of someone I couldn’t trust." blew me away. Linda is a master communicator.
Chapter Fourteen is priceless. Only a child could have precious, untarnished faith to believe for that miracle and it was totally mind-blowing.
One of the most poignant parts of the book was in Chapter Twenty-five:
I laid on the wet grass and closed my eyes.
“Did you make a mistake, God? If you did, it’s okay. I just want to know. I won’t be mad, I promise. But God, could you please find me another place to live? Anywhere is okay, so long as it’s a place where people really want me.”
Later her brother gave us a glimpse into a different side of the dad than portrayed earlier in the book. I loved reading the description of an earlier part of life that perhaps Linda didn't know about until her brother described it to her.
When talking about her grandmother after she died: "A few days after we buried her in the family plot next to Grampy, something sprang up from inside me, like a seed when it slowly and confidently breaks through the dirt. I wanted to be like her. Strong, caring, hardworking. I wanted to love God like she did. To take care of and rescue people caught in disasters, not necessarily of their own choosing. To cook and serve Sunday dinners in a house where everybody felt welcome and at home. I wanted to be a grandmother like her, a grandmother that changed lives. But more than anything, I wanted her to be proud of the person she always knew I was and would be." I know that Linda has made her grandmother proud.
I enjoyed the letters from Linda's brother and the overview about Viet Nam as she got older. Drama seemed to follow her and her family though.
The life-long effect of childhood trauma that Linda described in the epilogue was among my favorite parts of the book. I'm proud of the work Linda is doing to help children and bring us knowledge about mental illness in the family. Normal, at last, has become more than an illusion for her.