My Life in a Nutshell: A Novel
There are more than 40 million people in the U.S. alone who suffer from anxiety disorders. That makes one out of every eight people, which, in turn, means that the odds are rather unfortunately good that you will recognize the following symptoms as either your own or someone close to you:
“I’m trapped. My chest constricts even more, and I’m suffocating. I feel like I can’t get enough oxygen, and my lungs spasm again in a loud cough. Now that I’ve started coughing fully, I can’t stop. In a frantic attempt to get out, I push forward and burst out onto the sidewalk. But I’m not better.”
Author Tanya J. Peterson has admirably chosen to use her expertise as a certified councelor and expert in mental illness to create this novel, which gets inside the experience of a sufferer in a way that no case history or other non-fiction text ever can. The latter pair have an obligation to record only the exact and precise truths of a given subject; whereas in fiction, a writer has the latitude to combine life elements from several patient-subjects into one character, who, in turn, illuminates them all.
In the novel My Life in a Nutshell, the fictional sufferer is Brian Cunningham. Like many Anxiety Disorder sufferers, he has chosen jobs that reduce the amount of interaction he has to have with other people. In a sense, Brian is not unlike Linus in the old Peanuts cartoon who proclaims, ‘I love humanity, it’s people I can’t stand!’ So he works nights as a custodian and an IT specialist at an elementary school. Night is a great place to hide.
However, as all novels are journeys, and we, as readers, seek redemption for characters, Brian does find it eventually. He finds it in a beautiful mutual friendship founded with a Foster Child named Abigail. She has abandonment and trust issues, and so it is that these two outsiders form their own pact of mutual assistance. It is one which is quite lovely to read.
|Page Count||460 pages|
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