Monday, November 7, 2011
Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters: What She Read Review (briefly)
Working class Minnesota settings offer a rich backdrop for this coming of age tale with a decidedly serious twist, and Ms. Waters impresses with her unflinching portrait of a childhood colored by her mother's mania, depression, and schizophrenic breaks. Shuttling from her mother's care to foster homes and the couches of relatives and school chums, "Twink" or "Thera" always comes across as your average kid just hoping to be accepted and to find a day or two's normalcy amid her tumultuous circumstances. By the time she's a high schooler, both her father and her brother are out of her life (to avoid spoilers, I won't say why), and her mother abandons her to her own devices on a regular basis, so this plucky young teen learns coping strategy after coping strategy on the fly while going through all the typical trials and triumphs of teenage life as well.
My Opinion: Treading the line of believability at times with her uncannily detailed anecdotes, even from early childhood and all the way through high school, Ms. Waters nonetheless captured my compassion in this character-driven account of how her mother's mental illness scarred her husband and children. I found this memoir to be a pleasant diversion from my workaday life, and a solid reminder of how lucky most of us are in that we are not coping with mental illness and its effects on a daily basis.
My action: I'm going to respectfully reconnect with a couple of past students who also have coped with circumstances similar to Tera's, just to make sure they're still doing OK. I hope that she would approve.
p.s. Many thanks to the warm and generous Ms. Waters for offering me a perusal copy of her memoir, which ranks very well over at Amazon.com...