Saturday, June 8, 2013

Leave of Absence - Blog Tour

Mental illness carries such a stigma which is a damn shame because it is infinitely more complicated and confusing then we can ever imagine. Tanya J. Peterson does a masterful job of shedding light onto one of the most pressing and important topics of our generation. The media exploits mass killings, suicides, and health care to such an extant that mental health is put in very a negative spotlight. Keeping an open mind about mental illness is the only way we can begin to understand the complexities of it. We take medicine for our bodies when something is wrong so why is there such a stigma when we take medicine for our minds?

Peterson's story follows Penelope and Oliver, two people who are suffering from something outside their control. Oliver is admitted to Airhaven behavioral treatment center after he attempts jumping off an 18 story building hoping to end the guilt he has for not being able to save his wife and child from their untimely deaths. While there, he meets charismatic Penelope, a kind hearted woman who is suffering from schizophrenia. Other patients shun Penelope who is prone to make outbursts or cause a scene but Oliver finds a kindred spirit. Their journey towards healing and coming to terms with life outside the treatment center is humbling. Peterson really illuminates the characters raw emotions and the reader can't help but feel connected to these two poor souls as they to find reasons to live for in a world so un-accepting of their conditions. 

To date the only books I've read that deal with mental illness are: "Silver Lining's Playbook" and "The Curious Incident of the Nighttime Dog." This book however goes above and beyond and manages to humanize people who are suffering from many different forms of mental illness. It is a true eye opener. What books on mental illness have you read? What about movies? Why does our culture place such a negative stigma on mental health?

Thanks for reading!


  1. Dear Erin,

    I wrote Leave of Absence because I wanted to bring mental illness to light and help show the complexities of what it's really like rather than how it's portrayed in the media. I am extremely pleased and very happy that you wrote about this in your review and that you liked the novel. I am honored and humbled by the wonderful things you wrote. Thank you!(And I know you weren't trying to please me, which makes it even better.)

    You are so right that our culture places such a negative stigma on mental illness. It's tragic. I think that part of the problem is, as you mention, how mental illness is portrayed. I'm familiar with the two books you mentioned. I really enjoyed "A Curious Incident..." I'm embarrassed to admit that I've only seen the movie "Silver Linings Playbook." I think that movie was refreshing in that it didn't incorrectly and/or negatively portray mental illness. It didn't quite illustrate the depths of bipolar disorder, but that's hard to do in a movie. I think I'll read the book! Another book I've recently read is Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey. That book is about bipolar disorder, and I loved it.

    Thanks for letting Leave of Absence appear on your awesome blog, and thanks to all your readers who read your review!!

    1. Anytime Tanya! Thanks again for writing on such an important topic! I look forward to reading your future writing endeavors!

  2. I ran across the movie Silver Linings Playbook by accident and really enjoyed it. I agree with Tanya that the movie didn't get too involved with the disease itself, in fact it seemed that half way through the movie (if I remember correctly) the bipolar aspect wasn't even mentioned...the story was just about two people who didn't quite 'fit in' with the rest of the world. I haven't read Leave of Absence but will definitely try to now. Both of my (grown) kids have had partners who were bipolar so I'm looking for more insight into understanding it. Thanks again for the great review! Bev

    1. The book version of Silver Linings Playbook addresses mental illness a lot more than the movie does also, the end of the movie is completely different. If you go back a few months I have a review of the book on here.

      Thanks for finding my blog too, I really appreciate it! :)