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Death Stalks Kettle Street
John Bowen
The Isolation Door - Anish Majumdar

The devastating effects of schizophrenia.

 

I have just watched two short videos on GoodReads, presented by Anish Majumdar, who went through a lot of the anguish that the fictional Neil endures. Anish's mother also had a ten year battle with schizophrenia and his father was financially crippled by the experience, but stuck by her throughout.

I feel a real heel giving this book a poor rating because I really sympathise with what the author is trying to portray, but at the end of the day, it's the book itself that I am rating and I couldn't relax into this one, and not because of the traumatic nature of its content. None of the characters connected with me and the background of students struggling through a drama course didn't resonate as anything more than a soap opera.

 

The story revolves around Neil, who needs to get away from the situation with his mother and copes only by keeping tho two parts of his life separate. He lacks in social graces, possibly from trying to hide his home situation from his peers, though I wasn't sure if we were supposed to sense some lurking mental illness within him too. His mother's sister bails him out with his college fees and he meets Tim, his girlfriend Emily, and Emily's friend, Quincy.

There are complex interactions between these characters, and I can't say I liked any of them, but the person I disliked most was their tutor, Gary, who enjoyed putting his students through endless embarrassing scenarios, to what end I was never sure.

 

Meanwhile Neil's mother is back in the hospital being treated for a relapse and enduring further degradations of her own. The isolation door of the title seemed particularly brutal. I was horrified by the treatment Priya endured and failed to see how she was supposed to stand any hope of recovery when she is cowed at every move.

 

If the author's intention was to portray a sense of confusion and desperation, then he did a good job. No-one seemed able to communicate with each other and bounced around like disconnected ping-pong balls. However, I did come away with a clear sense of the devastation, both emotional and financial, that mental illness could cause.