June 13, 2013

Leave of Absence by Tanya J. Peterson



Leave of Absence by Tanya J. Peterson
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Publication Date: April 2013
Categories: Psychological

Description:

When Oliver Graham’s suicide attempt fails, he is admitted to Airhaven Behavioral Health Center. Unable to cope with the traumatic loss of his beloved wife and son, he finds a single thread of attachment to life in Penelope, a fellow patient wrestling with schizophrenia’s devastating impact on her once happy and successful life. They both struggle to discover a reason to live while Penelope’s fiance William strives to convince her that she is worth loving. As Oliver and Penelope try to achieve emotional stability, face others who have been part of their lives, and function in the “real world,” they discover that human connection may be reason enough to go on. 

Written with extraordinary perception into the thought processes of those dealing with mental illness, Leave of Absence is perfect for readers seeking an empathetic depiction of grief, loss, and schizophrenia. It has a place in the classrooms of counselor-educators, among support groups for those with mental illness and for their caregivers, and in the home of anyone who has ever experienced human suffering and healing.

My Thoughts:

This book picked me up, shook me around in it's teeth, and tossed me aside. What an emotional roller-coaster

Oliver is the most depressed person I've ever read about. Being inside his head was nearly torturous. After the loss of his family, he suffers from a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder

Penelope, suffering from schizophrenia, was a revelation to me. That particular mental illness has been completely bastardized by Hollywood and popular culture. This book opened my eyes to the reality of dealing with such a disease.

These two distressed and desperate people form an unlikely, but lovely, friendship. By helping one another they are helping themselves. Even though they don't realize that it's happening, they are healing one another in small ways.

I had trouble with the dialogue in this book. It read as unnatural. Things were explained in conversations between characters that could have been shown instead. It may have been a case of telling instead of showing.

Let me be clear: I do recommend this book. The subject matter is important and timely. The author obviously knows what she's talking about. Her passion for this topic radiates throughout the text. I look forward to seeing what Peterson writes next.

Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor.  She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities.  She draws on her life experience as well as her education to write stories about the emotional aspect of the human condition.

36 comments:

  1. I had that "telling v. showing" issue with "Watership Down." Really wanted to love that one, but it just felt like the bunnies were sitting around telling each other stories for the whole book. One of the few I DNF'd.

    I love keeping up with your reviews, even if I can't keep up with reading every book!

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    1. Uh oh, that makes me nervous as I have that on my tbr pile and am hoping to get to it soon ;)

      Thanks Kristin!

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    2. Oh! Well, still—give it a shot. I seem to be in the minority with disliking "Watership Down" anyway. Good luck!

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    3. I will one of these days. Who knows how long it will take me to get to it! ;)

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  2. It's always tough when you are trying to educate people about an issue without pulling them out of the story. It sounds like the dialogue here suffered from that. But I'm glad this book is letting readers know about the realities of mental illness.

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    1. Right! I certainly did learn a lot and it definitely made me feel lots of feels!

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  3. I have to pace myself with the mental illness books, because they can be so gut wrenching. This sounds like a good one, and I don't think I've ever really gotten inside the head (literarily)of a person suffering from schizophrenia, I'm sure it's fascinating and heartbreaking!

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    1. I read a few in a row a couple of months back and I felt DRAINED! This one sure opened my eyes.

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  4. Jennifer, thank you so much for your insightful review. I'm pleased that you experienced it the way you did, and I appreciate all your feedback and comments. I'd like to thank the readers of your blog, too, for taking the time to read your review of LOA! I truly appreciate it.

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    1. It was my pleasure Tanya. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I wish you tons of luck!

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  5. Dialogue can really make or break a book for me. This sounds like such a compelling story, though!

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  6. This one sounds powerful in subject matter. I'd have to find the right time for it. Great review. -

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    1. Thanks Anita :) This one will squeeze out your heart like a sponge.

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  7. The telling rather than the showing bugs the crap out of me. Unnatural conversation between character is always a killer for me, but the premise does sound fantabulous.

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    1. The dialogue was often painful :/ But yes, the premise was great ;)

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  8. I totally know what you mean with the dialogue, I usually have a really hard time with books like that. The subject sounds really interesting, though!

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  9. Powerful review for what sounds like a powerful book! In the case of the dialogue,I recently read and reviewed a book by Bryan Hutchinson, One Boy's Struggle, detailing Bryan's life to his early 30s. He lived all that time struggling with ADD/ADHD, but wasn't diagnosed until he was 30 something. As I read his writing style, I was immediately bugged, but then I thought about how our 18 year old ADHD/Asperger's grandson talks. Immediately I saw the connection, and with Bryan's detailed descriptions of what causes the behaviors of such a patient, I gained enormous insight to our grandson's life and struggles. But, boy, was it a difficult read because of the run on sentences, dialogue never stopping for a breath, etc.

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    1. That is such a great point about the dialogue and I honestly hadn't thought of it that way before! This is why I love talking about books so much!!

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  10. I've read good reviews on this one, I think it's one of the books Rebecca also recommended. Interesting topic!

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  11. This sounds like an intense read. It's good that the author is challenging the popular notions of schizophrenia.

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    1. That was the best part about this book. We're so used to that incorrect multiple personality business you know?

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  12. That sounds like a tough subject to tackle.

    Good review -- glad to hear about this book!

    Joy's Book Blog

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    1. I'm glad that the author did tackle it. We could all use a lot more understanding about mental illnesses.

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  13. One of the things I appreciate about your reviews is how well you balance your own emotional reactions with a more objective assessment of the book. This sounds like a difficult book from the emotional standpoint -- and probably not a good choice for me, to be honest. Still, it's important to have books like this, which help others understand the challenges of mental illness.

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    1. Thanks so much for saying that :)

      This was emotionally draining, no doubt about it!

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  14. Hmm...the subject matter might just hold my interest through the tough parts...but I'm not sure. Thanks for sharing...

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  15. Interesting about the dialogue. My thoughts were that it might be "too supportive" which sounds super insensitive, but maybe the problem was more with the dialogue in general.

    Either way, I really enjoyed and recommend the book as well!

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    1. Even if it didn't exactly work for me I'd definitely recommend it for the subject matter. It's important stuff!

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  16. Regardless of the dialogue, I think I'd enjoy this one. It's sad how Hollywood can warp mental illnesses and give us the wrong ideas. Great post!

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    1. No kidding, right? I don't think most people have a clue was schizophrenia is really like. This book sure opened my eyes.

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  17. I thought the dialog was kind of odd while reading, too, but I couldn't put my finger on why. I think you're right about her tendency to tell rather than show. But it was a great read overall; engaging, informative about mental illness, compassionate...

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    1. It was clunky or something? Hard to pin down. Overall I think it was an important read :)

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