Sunday, November 25, 2012

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey


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The book's description from the publisher's site:

A studio executive leaves his family and travels the world giving free reign to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to hide for 20 years.
In her tour-de-force first novel, Juliann Garey takes us inside the restless mind, ravaged heart, and anguished soul of Greyson Todd, a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free reign to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years. The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo twelve 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward. This is a literary page-turner of the first order, and a brilliant inside look at mental illness.
So very little is written about mental illness. And whatever is written that's of any value is almost never read by the right audience. I hope that Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See will end up in the hands of readers who must read it not because they suffer from mental illness but because they share their lives with a manic-depressive, depressive or schizophrenic person. I have no idea how Juliann Garey managed it but she wrote exactly what it feels to be mad and that there's no 'snapping out of it'. Ever. Because when you try to hide your illness, like Greyson had, it won't eventually go away but return with a vicious vengeance.

Greyson's bipolar disorder finally reigns supreme over his mind and his life. It's absolutely heartbreaking to be a remote witness (as a reader) to how the lives and spirits of Greyson's, his father's and every person's who loved them get ravaged by this invisible monster. But you will not be able to tear yourself away, no matter how much what you read will make your heart ache. Therein lies the power of Ms. Garey's writing. Her prose is beautifully spare, with enough impact to pierce your heart with sorrow for those people who find themselves ruled by a potentially very deadly disease and can do nothing about it, just like they couldn't do anything to prevent it from happening.

Juliann Garey will make you her hostage for the time it'll take you to read Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See. This is not a feel-good novel, it's disturbing, and it's tragic in many ways. But the way this author captured what is going on in the mind of a person affected with a mental illness (bi-polar in this case) is brilliant, precise and as close to the truth as you can get. It's torture and Greyson has to live with it until he dies. In the end, the choices made will be more easily acceptable to any reader, especially those who thankfully never have to live through Greyson's nightmare.

FTC: I received an e-galley of Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See from the publisher, Soho Press via Net Galley for a review.

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey will be on sale on December 26, 2012.