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Opening Gates Paperback – May 10, 2016
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This is a story of love, disappointment, fear, and discovery. Both provoking and uplifting, it is a great read. --Joanna Hill, author of Spiritual Law,and Words of Gratitude
A summer job in an mental hospital mirrors the oppressive McCarthy era of the 1950's. In expert storytelling, unpredictable obstacles force Rennie to draw on inner resources, and her confining work opens gates in her personal life. --William H. Abrashkin, former judge and Americn history enthusiast
Opening Gates opens up your mind, heart and soul.. highly recommended --5 star review : Sherylon from the Kindle Book Review
About the Author
Nancy King, Ph.D. is also the author of Changing Spaces, A Woman Walking, The Stones Speak, and Morning Light. A substantial list of nonfiction books include Dancing With Wonder: Self-Discovery Through Stories, which is an exploration of the writing and drama workshops she leads in the USA and abroad. Dr. King lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visit her website at nancykingstories.com.
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Top customer reviews
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Although Opening Gates is a work of fiction, King was 19 when she was employed as a recreational therapist in a large mental hospital for three months before beginning her senior year of college. She began the job as a frightened, naïve, young woman who knew almost nothing about mental illness, thrust into wards with no orientation or training. By the end of the summer, she had learned how to work in an institution where the unexpected was a fact of life, where incredible kindness and unbelievable cruelty co-existed. She is mindful of how much she learned from her patients and some of the attendants. They had helped her develop the confidence and courage to act on the caring she felt for her patients. Had she quit, she would have missed working in a place with shifting rules and contradictory attitudes that she was learning to negotiate—no mean feat.
“ ..if the world had gone crazy, and here I was, taking a job to work with people who were certifiably crazy. Did that make me crazy for doing it? Everyone else I knew was working in a restaurant or as a camp...”
Here we have a book titled Opening Gates. Rennie is the recreational therapist who the author chose to tell the story of many events which we presume are based on her own experiences. The world outside in 1956, after the three months, hadn’t changed. People were still making rampant and hysterical accusations, labelling people as Communists with no proof. The world inside the hospital hadn’t changed either. What had changed was her. She felt stronger, more sure of herself and more clear about what mattered to her. She still regretted having to sign the loyalty oath, and swore she would never do it again, but she couldn’t regret working at the hospital.
When I started to read the book, and I have reviewed over 140 books this past year, I found a unique storyteller able to convey emotion with a convincing and compelling choice of words that easily fit together to capture the moment with feelings, scents and visions. As creative writer, there is an abundance of clear narratives alternated with finely measured dialogue. The theme is clear as the title of the book tells: Opening Gates. I love the powerful short sentences creating mood, tension and emotion.
“Don’t you know nothin’?” Her pasty white skin tinged red with rage. She stormed out, leaving a stillness like the eye of a hurricane. “
“Why were Carol and Barbara here? They seemed sane, especially compared to some of the women in the ward. Were they crazy in a way I couldn’t see?”
In the mental health community we are confronted with patients and carers who have to maintain the order in an institution governed by rules; gates and keys symbolically representing a caged life. The author concentrates mainly on the interaction between patients and the administration and how Rennie, without experience, but with sentiments and compassion that go beyond, manages to lighten up the spirit of the patients, and letting them experience moments of satisfaction, excitement and happiness through interaction and games. Rennie has a special way to work with “broken minds” and those who lost reality connections. The confused. The lost.
We are also introduced to some personal relationships Rennie had with amongst others, Jake, Bruce and Yanni. Under the circumstances, she is seen as a miracle worker. She digs into the spirit of the patients where others write them off. Although her relationships are based on sane principles, she still has to deal with panic, anger and emotional fragility which is part of a human existence. We are shown how to be true to your principles under undignified circumstances. If you love words and want to learn how to tell and write a story, read this deeply inspiring story.
6 April 2016
There were many insightful revelations in the course of the novel such as women's lack of control of her fertility in the 1950s; The way people took credit for other individual's efforts; The mental patients as real people who suffered due to insensitivity of others; the general attitude of people towards mentally sick people; and much more.
In fact, any person reading the book would develop an empathy towards the mentally sick. This is very essential in today's world where many individuals shy away from seeking help due to the stigma attached with mental problems. If people gain a better knowledge about the world of mental people then there would be greater effort to help them.
I recommend this book to one and all as it is not just an entertaining story, but a meaningful one that would benefit every reader.
We start off with being introduced to Renni, a young 19 year old college student who is doing just enough in life, she goes to a college she doesn’t like because she does not believe she is smarter, she is with a young man she doesn’t agree with/like because she wants to please him and doesn’t think she could do better, and so on, you get the gist of what type of person she is. She goes out of her comfort zone and applies at a mental health hospital as a recreation therapist for the summer because it pays well. To her surprise they hire her and she is thrust into this foreign world where not everything is as it seems, and people change from one minute to the next. Fighting for her beliefs and struggling with herself in defining exactly what her beliefs are, we are brought along an amazing journey of self discovery.
Most recent customer reviews
Nancy King’s fifth novel, Opening Gates, is perhaps her most character revealing effort yet.Read more