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My Mother's Keeper: A Daughter's Memoir Of Growing Up In The Shadow Of Schizophrenia Hardcover – March 19, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Formerly blamed for the illness, the families of schizophrenics are now more likely to be viewed as facilitators of treatment and healing. These first-person narratives provide insights into how two families coped with this devastating mental disease, which affects about one percent of the population. Neither provides easy answers, and those needing specific guidelines should consult Kim Mueser and Susan Gingerich's Coping with Schizophrenia: A Guide for Families (New Harbinger, 1994). Holley offers a moving account of how her distinguished and eccentric Southern family reacted when her mother, Dawn, was stricken. Missing fathers, well-off maiden aunts, and tales of child abuse and growing up in the 1960s deepen a story that reads like a well-written family saga. The author, who assumed responsibility for her mother's care at a young age, and her husband, a freelance writer, discuss relevant themes surrounding this disease (the mystery of its causes, the promise of drug therapy, the failure of deinstitutionalization, and public ignorance and prejudice) in the context of Dawn Elgin's life. Simon's Mad House is a more disturbing book. The journalist-author's brother and sister were schizophrenic, but according to this harrowing account her whole family was victimized by the disease. Combining personal experience with up-to-date research and interviews with other siblings, Simon emphasizes schizophrenia's terrible toll on immediate family members, including guilt, anger, and lifelong financial and emotional burdens. The book concludes with a set of recommended readings. Both books will appeal to relatives of the mentally ill and will educate others; Holley's in particular should fascinate a more general audience. Recommended for public libraries.?Antoinette Brinkman, Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This poignant memoir casts light into the tangle of misinformation and misunderstanding about schizophrenia. Dawn Elgin was a promising jazz vocalist in 1940s Hollywood, but mental illness destroyed her career as well as her capacity to care for her tiny daughter. Raised by maternal relatives, Tara Elgin took over as her mother's legal guardian at age 16. By 1980, when single-parent journalist Holley met singer and bookstore salesperson Tara (now development director of Austin's art museum), Dawn was a street person familiar to hundreds of residents of the Texas capital. The Holleys' study blends the trajectories of Dawn's illness, Tara's childhood and her efforts to improve the quality of her mother's life, changes in scientific and social prescriptions for schizophrenia, and the authors' romance, marriage, and family life. Especially helpful for readers dealing with a family member's schizophrenia; also enlightening for those observing this devastating illness, for now, from the outside. Mary Carroll
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 369 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688133681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688133689
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,723,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a young woman with a mother who has paranoid schizophrenia, this book was invaluable to me. My mom was missing for 12 years, and I received this as a gift not long after finding her (about a year and a half ago). It was personally very comforting for me to read this wonderful book, and I would recommend it to anyone. Ms. Holley's close bond with her mom reminded me of the bond I had/have with mine, and the inherently conflicted feelings that result from that bond.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Darlene N Bathory on January 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I fell in love with this book from the first page and couldn't put it down. The author takes you through the beginning of a beautiful singing career of her mother to the painful discovery of a life long mental illness. It truely gave me a new understanding of schizophrenia and the affect it has on family and friends.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "mrcyfrmgd" on October 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
My Mother's Keeper is an excellent autobiography/biography in one of a mother and daughter and their separate and entwined lives. I am a mental health RN and have been studying about schizophrenia. This book has helped me see in places I have never been able to see into before. I now have a broader perspective of schizophrenia and how families must feel also. Ms. Holley's writing is easy to read and follow. So much so, that it is very hard to put the book down. This is definitely a must read for anyone who wants to find out more about schizophrenia.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This was an exceptionally well written memoir, one that must have been very difficult to write. Ms. Elgin moves gracefully along the line between her mother's story and her own, and (it appears) honestly grapples with the ups and downs of both. Thank you.
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