Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words
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Lori Schafer describes herself as a “writer of serious prose and humorous erotica and romance.” The serious prose consists of several published essays, this memoir, and another slated for release in the next few months. The latter, two novels slated to be published this year with another in progress.
For more, visit Schafer’s website.
“It was the spring of 1989. I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school and an honors student. I had what every teenager wants: a stable family, a nice home in the suburbs, a great group of friends, big plans for my future, and no reason to believe that any of that would ever change.
Then came my mother's psychosis.
I experienced first-hand the terror of watching someone I loved transform into a monster, the terror of discovering that I was to be her primary victim. For years I’ve lived with the sadness of knowing that she, too, was a helpless victim – a victim of a terrible disease that consumed and destroyed the strong and caring woman I had once called Mom.
My mother's illness took everything. My family, my home, my friends, my future. A year and a half later I would be living alone on the street on the other side of the country, wondering whether I could even survive on my own.
But I did. That was how my mother - my real mother - raised me. To survive.
She, too, was a survivor. It wasn't until last year that I learned that she had died - in 2007. No one will ever know her side of the story now. But perhaps, at last, it’s time for me to tell mine.”
After I finished reading this memoir I was scanning the suggested questions for book club discussion section that follows the main story. One of those questions jumped out at me: “How would Lori’s experience have differed had she had a more extended family?” As I was reading Lori’s story I kept thinking how much different her experience might have been. With a father who was out of Lori and her mother’s lives and no other family close, either emotionally or geographically, she had no support and was on her own to figure things out.
I found On Hearing … to be an interesting and enlightening read. For those who have never (or even those who have) dealt with a family member who suffers from a mental illness, it should be eye opening. There are lessons to be learned about the role of family (in this case, by the relative lack thereof), and the ability we humans have to find a way to survive.
No significant issues
Rating: **** Four Stars