She’s Not Herself
Linda Appleman Shapiro grew up in the bustling, oceanside community of Brighton Beach in the 1940s and 1950s. Beginning in early childhood, she found her mother’s unpredictable behavior bewildering. The explanation, “Linda, your mama’s not herself today,” did little to account for a parent often hidden in plain sight.
Shapiro’s memoir, aptly titled She’s Not Herself, traces her life from childhood to the present, emphasizing the impact of her mother’s depressive episodes on her family, especially Shapiro, the youngest child. As the youngest, she was often home alone with her mother. Shapiro, now a psychotherapist, describes and interprets her experiences in hopes of helping other adult children with a mentally ill parent or sibling.
This is a well-crafted and fluid narrative. Good description and dialogue, and enough detail to suffice, but not overburden, maintains reader interest throughout. Given the subject matter, it is a plus that the author takes a charitable (rather than bitter and blaming) approach to the memory of a woman who surely was as baffled by her illness as those who loved her.
Other aspects of the memoir are fascinating: Shapiro’s path in life, including relationships and opportunities, the back story of her Jewish Russian parents who both immigrated to the United States after World War I, and the sights and sounds of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn brimming with Russian immigrant families.
She’s Not Herself will certainly resonate with those affected by a family member’s mental illness. However, it also speaks well to a wider readership because, at the heart of this story resides the resilience of the human spirit. Shapiro writes, “I hold on to the one belief I hold most valuable: the need to honor the parts of our selves that are healthy, the parts that are strong, even when unpredictable situations—our own physical or emotional stressors or those of our loved ones—catch us off guard.”
|Author||Linda Appleman Shapiro|
|Page Count||268 pages|
|Publisher||Dream of Things|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Biographies & Memoirs|