Parts of this review may be considered *spoilers*.
Beautifully heart wrenching. An amazingly sad story told by a remarkably strong woman.
The memoir begins with the power of a man lovingly known as her father. And then things change.
As Francis takes us through her months-long stay at a mental hospital we are provided with hints as to why she might be there. Anger issues? Acting out? Her stepmother simply trying to distance her from her father?
Francis comes from a broken home, which, in itself, is not that uncommon. The difficult part was the instability Francis found herself immersed in. Neither of her parents were capable of finding and maintaining healthy relationships. Still, Francis coped as best as she could. She did well in school, had friends, and loved her parents in her own way.
Lillian, Francis’ mother, seems to have her own mental health problems. The frustration Francis feels towards her mother causes more than just a strain. Lillian is not a bad person. Being a mother does not come naturally to her, but she never stopped showing Francis her love.
Gordon, Francis’ father, seems to be a broken man. Low self-esteem? I believe he always wanted to show his daughter his love, but was just too weak. So many unanswered questions. A man is forced to choose between his girlfriend and his daughter. That should never have been a problem. There should never have been an ultimatum. This is something that occurs in fiction novels or movies, not real life. But it does, it has. Francis has spent decades overcoming the apparent rejection of her father; a man who used to take her places and loved spending time with her.
Francis was blessed with a constant; her grandmother Rachael. They had an amazingly close relationship. I loved hearing of the times they spent together. During these moments, her world seemed at peace.
The world of mental health has changed since 1986. The focus back then seemed to be more on why. Why did you act out like that? Why did you continue with that behavior? The focus now is less on why and more on learning to cope and move on.
This book ends with the sad realization that her father lost the power decades ago.
Francis is still working on overcoming her broken past. What better way to get through a difficult past than to face the demons head-on and write about it? Thank-you Francis for opening your heart and sharing your pain with us. We wish you all the best!
Up next… The Tea Planter’s Wife