“Heartbreaking, cathartic and startlingly funny, it thoroughly redefines our conception of unconditional love.”
― Actor Tony Shaloub
“Shows us the way through an unimaginable terror to the light of hope.”
― Actors LaTanya and Samuel L. Jackson
When a book, in this case a memoir, is heaped in praise before it even gets out of the gate, that’s usually reason for readers to take notice. And that’s certainly the case with He Came in With It: A Portrait of Motherhood and Madness (Turner) by Miriam Feldman.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Powers calls it “a cleansing narrative that should inspire mothers — and other caregivers — to rise up, unite and breathe hot new life into the drooping cause of mental healthcare reform.”
DIAGNOSIS CAREENS FAMILY OFF COURSE
In an idyllic Los Angeles neighborhood, where generations of families enjoy deep roots in old homes, the O’Rourke family fits right in. Miriam and Craig are both artists, and their four children carry on the legacy. When their teenage son, Nick, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, a tumultuous decade ensues in which the family careens permanently off the conventional course.
Like the ten Biblical plagues, they are hit by one catastrophe after another. Violence, evictions, arrests, a suicide attempt, a near-drowning — even cancer and a brain tumor — play against the backdrop of a wild teenage bacchanal of art-making and drugs.
With no time for hand-wringing, Miriam advances, convinced she can fix everything, while a devastated Craig retreats to their property in rural Washington state as home becomes a battlefield.
It is while cleaning out a closet that Miriam discovers a cache of drawings and journals written by Nick throughout his spiral into schizophrenia. She begins a solitary forensic journey into the lonely labyrinth of his mind.
This is the story of how mental illness unspools an entire family. As Miriam fights to reclaim her son from the ruthless, invisible enemy, we are given an unflinching view into a world few could imagine.
SHORTFALLS & STIGMA OF MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
It exposes the shocking shortfalls of our mental health system, the destructive impact of stigma, shame and isolation, and the falsity of the notion of a perfect family.
Throughout the book, it is the family’s ability to find humor in the absurdities of this life that saves them. It is a parable that illustrates the true definition of a good life, allowing for the blemishes and mistakes that are part of the universal human condition. He Came in With It is the legacy of, and for, her son Nick.
Feldman delivers the perfect balance of humor, heart and self-reflection. Brutally honest, darkly humorous and deeply insightful, He Came In With It is about the power of community to hold each other up when the unexpected and tumultuous occurs. It’s about the individual’s quest for some sort of stability amid all the chaos, and a refusal to bow to the stigma around a disease that is often considered the black sheep of mental illness.
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