Monday, August 20, 2012

Review of Memoirs from the Asylum

In Memoirs from the Asylum, Kenneth Weene allows the reader to enter a world most of us pray we never have to … the world of mental illness and the effects it has on both the victims and those that are paid to help them.

There’s Marilyn, the catatonic schizophrenic, who spends all of her time seeing an altogether different world through a crack in her bedroom wall. It’s the world she once related to and is populated by those of her past who meant something to her. How will she respond when the crack gets repaired?

Dr. Buford Abrose is the first year resident who also has seen his share of problems. From a loveless marriage to the feelings of failure on his part when he can’t balance the paperwork aspect of the job from the actual attempt to make a difference, he is caught within the walls of the asylum. The closer he tries to understand the patients, the farther he falls from his own life.

The unfeeling workers of the asylum add to the misery and complications these, and the other characters, of the book experience. Their answers normally include medications and isolation for the patients … or is it for themselves?

There is a feeling of connection between these characters that becomes apparent as the book goes on. Although they all react in their own way, the connection that they share is that of fear. Fears that were brought on by the “real world” when they were younger … probably none of their own doing. Possibly a death of someone close, maybe the physical abuse of a parent or friend … something made these people afraid and wanting to escape. Now that they did, all they really want is freedom, whatever that means to them.

In the unique style of narration, Weene allows us to see what really happens in the minds of those that are institutionalized. Sometimes the book was hard to read, using words and imagery that the normal person may not understand or relate to and was lacking an actual plot, but somehow at the end it all comes together.

Not one to be a spoiler, all I can say is that Memoirs from the Asylum is a book that everyone should read and at the same time pray to the God of your choice that the freedom you have is the freedom that you really want.

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