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This Fragile Life: A Mother's Story of a Bipolar Son Hardcover – June 1, 2012
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"This Fragile Life is an extraordinary book. . . . compelling, piercing, and informative.” —Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and author of An Unquiet Mind
"[An] eloquent dialogue of mother and son, poetry and prose, sickness and healing, fury and acceptance, fear and hope, life and death, and, foremost, author and reader." —Cathy N. Davidson, author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
"With brilliance and tremendous courage, Charlotte Pierce-Baker travels where no other autobiography about mental illness has gone before in terms of discussing issues of a family shattered by the bipolar disorder of their son: race, fear, love, loss and healing. This Fragile Life is a testament to a family forced to cope with mental illness, a unique journey and an emotional triumph. Every family affected with mental illness should read [this] magnificent book." —Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania
"Vigorously written, brave, and candid . . . a deeply moving, instructive account of embattled lives and loves striving for order in the face of a heartbreaking mental illness." —Arnold Rampersad, author of Ralph Ellison and The Life of Langston Hughes
“An important book not to be missed by anyone interested in parenting, mental health, memoir, or African American social history. With this second memoir, Pierce-Baker again distinguishes herself as a writer fiercely capable of writing trauma transcended.” —Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone, award-winning songwriter, and essayist
"Illuminating and brilliant, with poetry and prose, mother and son lay bare the ravages of bipolar disorder and the journey toward growth and understanding. A touching, lyrical memoir." —Jewell Parker Rhodes, award-winning author of Voodoo Dreams and Douglass' Women
"A dark narrative brightened by a devoted mother’s commitment and resilience in the face of an only child’s strange and terrible illness." —Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
For sure, this book gives the story about mental illness the compassion and intelligence the subject--and subjects--deserve. But the audience for Fragile Life is all of us who pay attention the the life of the minds of loved ones and friends or who understand parenting as an extreme sport. This Fragile Life portrays love in action in all its stamina as our popular culture seldom has the patience to depict it. It lets us into a family, and yet maintains a dignified reserve.
I, too, know and love Charlotte and Houston and Mark, and I'm glad to learn, through this book, the steps, the rock-climbing slippery finger-holds, they took toward health. Like their lives, this book instructs and inspires.
At the Celebration of Black Writing in Philadelphia this past June, Charlotte shared a panel with spoken-word artist Bassie Ikpi. Together, they were riveting. Their discussion necessarily asked a question that reminded me of Sonia Sanchez' mantra: What does it mean to be human? Bless Charlotte for making art from pain.
Oh how society needs to better support it's citizens and families with mental illness.
It confirms there is still a stigma that society attaches to illness of the mind and spirit. It is a stigma that so many average American families daily deal with and keep hidden from family and friends out of fear, guilt, shame, misunderstanding and misinformation. Just look at how quickly the media was to suggest Adam Lanzar's Asperger's Syndrome may have been the cause of his unexplainable and horrific act of violence. Is there really any question about why families with "different" loved ones chose to suffer in silence?
At the conclusion of my unstoppable, one evening, reading of the entire book my first thought was how sorry i was to have been clueless about the suffering the Baker's were experiencing. Certainly, if Charlotte, Houston, or Mark had been physically ill, it would have been widely shared with other colleagues, friends, and acquaintances to give us the opportunity to reach out to them with sympathy and offers of support. It was painful to read, like so many others, they chose secrecy and isolation.
Each year brings new discoveries about the brain but It still remains as mysterious as the deepest depths of the ocean and furthest planets in our galaxy. We may never know or fully understand the complexities of this life defining organ. In the meantime, like anything else we do not know or understand, we should not live in fear of it. Fear, all too often leads to violence and destruction. Fascination, on the other hand, will continue to lead us to further exploration and greater understanding.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful courageous book. Truth telling is not easily accessible for families to help understand their mentally ill child or partner. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Laurie Kahn
Reading this book was very difficult for me because I was not reading the story of strangers and their lives, lives which have gone terribly awry. Read morePublished 22 months ago by BarbaraAnn
It’s a wonderful, touching story of what it’s like to be the parent of a young adult diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Kathryn Vercillo
this book is amazing! insightful, emotional, and moving. please read it and share it so we can all learn more about the realities of bipolar disorder. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Jonathan A. Yudis
A real 'tell it like it is' book. I have recommended this book to others who have family members with this terrible disease.Published on February 2, 2014 by Peggy L. Davis
In rehab bad to know there is a place like Skyline Trial is hope to me . God Bless you Charlotte .Published on January 18, 2014 by JIM KOLASINSKI
With tears, I just finished reading "This Fragile Life". As a mother whose son was recently diagnosed with bi-polar, we are just beginning the journey to battle this... Read morePublished on December 2, 2013 by Nancyfo
The book arrived relatively quickly and was at a very good price. Near mint condition with no torn pages or markings that hindered my ability to read.Published on October 14, 2013 by Tanner Brolsm
I loved the intimacy and tenderness of this family as they swam through the pains of illness.The honesty and love abound. Read morePublished on June 22, 2013 by looking4quality