Jerry’s mother was bipolar. It began when he (her second child) was born. When it got worst, she tried killing herself several times, by jumping in front of a bus or cutting her wrist or running off with Jerry, a toddler, on her tow. Jerry created a novel (read the review here) from his experiences of living with a mother who was mentally ill.
Jerry’s book unleashed many such stories from people who have read and loved EM. At one of his book readings, a woman asked him to collect all these stories and create a book called ‘A book of light’. To create awareness about mental illness in our society. This book is a testament to the fact that, it often takes one person’s action to move and mobilise many towards the same goal.
The introduction piece of this book is written by Jerry himself. He has written it delicately, choosing each word carefully lest he hurts his readers. He has pointed out some hard hitting truth a family faces while taking care of a loved one. The entire piece is honest and hits just right. It is powerful enough to keep you wondering for days.
The book contains 13 stories. All revolving around the same theme of ‘when a loved one has a different mind’. Some are written fondly, some in grief, others in guilt, betrayal, remorse, and even regret. One could feel the helplessness, confusion, sadness, and denial a family goes through in such times. Each story is special in its own way, because each gives glimpses of something very personal and intimate.
If I had to pick my favourites of these stories, I would probably pick these five. ‘Papa, Elsewhere‘, ‘Daniella‘, ‘The Man under the staircase‘, ‘Anna‘, and ‘Some questions for a brother‘. First one was about a bipolar father, who when went missing, the family took a sigh of relief. Second was about a mother’s denial about her daughter’s depression. Third was about depression, and how it rears its ugly head. Last one was about regret and guilt for not reaching out when there was still time.
Only thumbs down with this book is that writing is not consistent throughout, which is quite obvious, as all writers are different. Few stories are well written, while some are weak in their narration and flow. If writing style is something you can ignore, then it’s definitely a good read. Because, what matters here is the emotions with which each story was written.