A book review of a family broken


Robert Kolker

Anchor Books, 2021 (Paperback)


A lot of reviews of this book use the word “riveting.” I’d add spellbinding, enthralling and even a little bit of plain, old “can’t put it downable.” I devoured this book. Finally, a five-star read for 2021. There are really no secrets to give away here. It’s the story of a young couple, married in the mid-century. He’s an officer (albeit in a few branches of the service) and she’s a stay-at-home mom. Of twelve. Ten boys born almost back-to-back, followed by two angelic girls. A picture perfect Catholic American family, until it wasn’t. Six of the boys grow up and grow into the mysterious at best, devastating at worst diagnosis of schizophrenia. Through painstaking research wrapped into elegant prose, Kolker offers a complete history into this family and how each member was affected in a different way. The journey is fascinating and terrifying and sweet and inspirational. There’s a picture of three of the younger, scrappy boys in their hockey jerseys that actually broke my heart in that way you’ll never forget how a moment made you feel. But in the end I was left feeling hopeful that this family’s journey, and this writer’s words, will become a new and necessary piece of a puzzle. The puzzle of understanding schizophrenia once and for all. For now, this book has revealed one major key to accomplishing this quest: compassion. 

Five Stars

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