Fabulous Fiction Firsts #378

Bipolar disorder affects more than 2% of the population, among them some of the most successful and creative individuals - Buzz Aldrin, Ludwig Von Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, and Robin Williams. It is a lifelong condition with no clinically proven cure, but the symptoms of which could be managed by a combination of education, medication, and psychotherapy. Some however, choose more extreme measures.

In Ashley Ream's Losing Clementine, no longer willing to live the bipolar life, renowned LA artist Clementine Pritchard plans to take her own life in 30 days (nothing messy, of course). She begins the countdown by disposing of her impressive pharmacy and worldly goods, the personal assistant and the shrink/lover. Between manically working on a series of new paintings and eating her way through her favorite ethnic take-outs, she meticulously sets her affairs in order. Foremost on her mind is finding a loving home for her cat and tracking down the father who abandoned the family years ago. As she comes face-to-face with the reasons why she can't go on, she unexpectedly finds a new connection to the world she desperately wants to leave.

"...(R)ich with detail, fully illustrating Clementine's world from her artwork to her love affair with food... the story is told with an unexpectedly fresh and humorous voice".

"This novel, spiked with dark humor is an entertaining and moody whirlwind".

Called a "tour-de-force first novel" Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See * by Juliann Garey takes us inside the restless mind, ravaged heart, and anguished soul of Greyson Todd, a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free reign to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years.

The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo twelve 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward.

"A brilliant inside look at mental illness".

"A compelling read".

For fans of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette * *, Toni Jordan's Addition, and Leaving Van Gogh, a novel by Carol Wallace.

* = starred review
* * = starred reviews