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Detour: My Bipolar Road Trip in 4-D

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3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  461 ratings  ·  60 reviews
A finely wrought memoir of mental health, Detour takes a genre explored by Susanna Kaysen and Kay Redfield Jamison and propels it in a revelatory and rebellious new direction.
Detour is the extraordinary first book by Lizzie Simon, a twenty-three-year-old woman with bipolar disorder. We meet her as she is set to abandon her successful career as a theatrical producer in New...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published November 21st 2002 by Atria Books (first published 2002)
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Sarah
Jun 01, 2008 Sarah rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: well, no one.
There are a lot of memoirs about bipolar out there and if you are looking for a really good one, this book is not it. Some of the aspects of bipolar were oversimplified a little too much in my opinion. "Madness" by Marya Hornbacher is an excellent read about bipolar as is "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison. There are also two well-written, realistic accounts of bipolar written by Patty Duke. I would recommend those before "Detour."
Sarah
I don’t feel like this is so much a journey into what it’s like to suffer with a mental illness as what it is to be a privileged, self absorbed individual commercializing their mental illness. Her measure of “success” is extremely narrow minded, revolving primarily around making her feel better about her life. She classifies herself as being able to live a “successful” life, but it’s a life that goes from being obsessed with work to completely blowing everything off to go on some inane road trip...more
Kitty
This book is almost shockingly bad. It began with Simon’s story. Everyone who has been diagnosed with a serious mental disorder has a “story”. That moment when they first realized something was wrong, the moment when the doctor told them, “This is what’s happening,” and the subsequent relief, judgment, and struggles that come after. My own came when I was in college, only a few years older than Simon herself was when her story unfolded. Simon’s story, however, began to irk me. She runs through a...more
Sarah
The concept was good but she wasn't the right person for the job and she failed at it. The author is very judgemental and does not seem to appreciate the fact that "success" is measured in different ways. For most people with BP just getting up in the morning and functioning is a success story. She was only interested in people who do "extraordinary things" as she put it.

It also seems that she wasn't completely in touch with her own issues while writing the book. She was extremely disfunctional...more
Darcie
I could've read this in one sitting, but I had to sleep. So I did it in two. SO good. I love any first-person accounts of what it is like to live with a mental illness. I've read a lot of negative reviews of this book because the author (a young woman with bipolar) goes in search of successful people who have transcended their diagnosis, and according to these critics, that makes her pretentious. Do these "critics" wish to hear just another tragedy of a bipolar person ending up a chronic mental...more
Nancy
Nov 10, 2008 Nancy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is bipolar or is a bipolar supporter
Recommended to Nancy by: Internet
This lady has taken the bull by the horns, and faced and dealt with a chronic lifetime illness with imagination and compassion. One of the best books I have read about bipolar illness. She has used interviews with other people who suffer from the same thing to give a wide perspective of this problem, and the different ways people have of dealing with it. In this way, she also learns how to cope with her own illness, as well as a deeper understanding of the human side to a textbook illness that c...more
Carol
The author's willingness to reveal both herself and her illness makes
this a brave book. I recently took a class focused on writing memoir
and this book was a type of memoir we studied. After that, twenty-year
olds wrote about their illnesses, illnesses of family members, death
and other challenges. These undergrad students followed the lead of Lizzie Simon and became willing to take greater risks in writing. The
ability to put transcripts on e-mail expedites sharing.
Amy
Very honest account of life with bipolar when it takes one by surprise. Proactive about seeking support and understanding from other young people with the same struggle Lizzie is lead to embark on a meaningful tour. The experiences of which she wholeheartedly and compassionately shares with her readers in hopes that it will help someone else. What a beautiful book; what a gift to the world of bipolar!
Margaret
Just what I was looking for -- someone writing about bipolar success stories and what it takes to be healthy with bipolar. After reading so much gloom and doom this book soothed me with honesty and humor.
Jane
This book surprised me & wasn't a bad read. The best part was I learned things about "why" I became manic when I was put on an anti-depressant. You'd think a psychiatrist would've told me that since I'd been seeing one for over 5 years, but none did.
This book may be as enlightening for others as well.
Anna
This is probably one of the best memoirs about bipolar disorder that I've read recently. I think that had a lot to do with the writing style and the way the author presented her struggles with the illness, but also because she didn't just talk about her own experiences with being bipolar. She interviewed a bunch of young, successful, functional bipolar people, and it was interesting to see where their experiences overlapped and where they diverged. The ebook is riddled with weird formatting erro...more
Suzie
Lizzie Simon's Detour helped me to understand the challenges associated with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In her book, she travels across the United States interviewing young, successful bipolar people in order to debunk the stigmas associated with mental illness.

One aspect that I did not like about the book was how she portrayed different mental illness associations and the people who go to them in an often negative light. This might be because she was only 23 when she wrote the book,...more
Alice
An interesting enough premise: Simon, a young bipolar woman in her 20s takes a roadtrip to find and interview other bipolar people. The catch is that Simon is only interested in interviewing bipolar people who are as "successful" as she is. This condescending goal in mind, Simon proceeds to fall in love with the most unstable of her interviewees, overshare about her sex life (a common problem amongst white female writers, see Eat, Pray, Love), and brag about how high-functioning she is, while of...more
Melissa
This was the best, most affirming book for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder that I have read yet. Wonderful book, all about linking up with others who have been through what you have been through, and letting you know that you are not alone. This book was less of "People with bipolar are.... Bipolar is ...etc etc." (Diagnostic, scientific things by "experts".) It was more of "This was what I was doing at the time, this is how I felt." (by the first person author). There is so much to identi...more
Emily
I can't say I liked it all that much, but it is a successful woman in her 20s with Bipolar writing about her first horrible experience of mania, her job success while in treatment with Lithium, and her bits of self-discovery as she takes a road trip looking for other successful on-their-meds 20-somethings. She brings the journals she has kept since she was a child on the road trip with her, and sees signs of the illness at a very young age. The book is likely full of triggers for people with Bip...more
Cari
As a memoir of self-discovery and mental illness, Detour is a stand-out in the genre, better by far than Marya Hornbacher's maddening and self-indulgent Madness.

As for the author's stated goal, which is splashed across the back cover, she failed. To present Detour as one woman's journey to present a cross-section of other individual struggles with bipolar and a search for commonality across the U.S. would be a wretched disservice to the book. (In fairness to the author, about 3/4 of the way thro...more
Hollowspine
Berendt in his review comments on Simon's "ingenious inquiry" into manic depression. This 'inquiry' consists of less than 1/3 of the writing in the book. In truth what this book consists of is Lizzie Simon's ode to herself.

The interviews that Simon does to undertake her inquiry into the lives of the Bipolar famous are terrible. She questions the answers that her interviewees give her. When her interviewee does not give her the answer she is looking for she will try over and over again to get the...more
Jen Appell
This book was part of my writing course; I don't think I would have picked it up had I not been forced to. The writing itself was rather poor, and the author was a judgmental bitch. It was set up in a way that was quick and easy, though. The idea of the story is that she has bipolar and decides to travel the country interviewing other bipolar people. However, it gets rather confusing because the interviews aren't really central to the story. The ending wraps it up nicely, explaining why, but for...more
HRH
Feb 24, 2008 HRH rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with bipolar and people who would like to learn about bipolar
The book tells the autobiographical story of Lizzie Simon, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 17. At age 24, after completely college at Columbia and running a successful theatre, Lizzie decided to go on a road trip to learn about other young, successful bipolar people.

This book is good even for readers who don't have any connection with the disorder because it's really interesting generally. I was fascinated hearing about the psychotic breaks everyone had which lead to their d...more
Sarah
Well written description of bipolar disorder by a bipolar author. Bipolar is highly stigmatized disease in the media. All of the stereo-types I've seen of bipolar in TV and movies is inaccurate and wrong. It's used by uninformed authors as a plot device in police procedurals.

This is an excellent book if you want a truer account of what it's like to have bipolar disorder. I have a degree in Psychology.

Warning: explicit language.
Estie
This book describes a road trip the author took to find and interview other successful adults living with bipolar disorder. The idea behind the book is a good one, and the book might actually have been good if the author had done a better job of researching and writing it. Instead, the reader is confronted with the authors' half baked journal entries written while she was trying to pursue her 'project'. Some semblance of a story emerges from these writings but I wouldn't even consider it a good...more
Amber
I was reminded of this book becuase it was under my bedside table in my parents home. I remember reading it shortly after I was diagnosed with bi-polar. My experience was a little different and I was mildly disturbed by her point of view in certain instances, but it helped me gain alot of insight about myself. I felt less alone and odd because this chick went through it to. I think it is definitely worth picking up..especially if you've experienced or know someone who has experienced an unexpect...more
Emily
A young woman with bipolar disorder talks about her experience and goes on a road trip to interview others with the disorder. She tries to find young people who are successful despite the diagnosis; this is difficult, at least in the way she went about it. In theory an interesting idea. But her writing style (and frequent use of the f-bomb) made it not that enjoyable to read. Doesn't offer too much insight into mental illness, though she tried.
Lisa
May 02, 2008 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all those with an interest in disability and mental illness
A firsthand account of a young girl's trip through bipolar disorder and her chose to combat it by telling other people's stories with the same condition..Her strength and struggle is inspiring and enlightening, all the same..Her story discounts the sometimes social belief that a mental illness means no measure of stability. Her account proves that one's diagnosis can open doors and inspire unseen strength.
Amber Giffen
I liked the first part of this book right before she left on her road trip. After that, I found her to be a judgmental bitch who thinks she knows it all about what it means to be successful and have bipolar disorder. Her condescending attitude towards people and snap judgments about people really pissed me off. The end was relatively better but I was disappointed in this book.
Dese'Rae
Feb 01, 2010 Dese'Rae rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one. ever.
uh, this book sucks. lizzie simon is melodramatic and boring. sure, there are plenty of us out there being bipolar, but this isn't romance. she's trite and horrible and apparently no one bothered to hire her an editor, because her dialogue and punctuation are shit.

i hated this book so much, i stopped 50 pages short of the end. lizzie simon can suck it.
Deb
I'm not bipolar; however, a student I work with is and this book gave me insight to the struggles and prejudices she faces. Simon captures the frenetic and addictive energy of manic/depressive personalities brilliantly. Great for reading with bipolar teens who are struggling to feel good about themselves in a society that still buys into the "normal" mindset.
Jennifer Oh
Fantastic. Fast-paced. Although slightly unorthodox, I loved the almost stream-of-consciousness storytelling Simon's begins the book with--starting down one path and suddenly, "Wait. Stop." to redirect the focus. In a way, it lets you realize things along with her, instead of just being fed the pertinent info.
Michelle
Sep 19, 2007 Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in biographies and/or psychology
This books gives an interesting perspective of what it is like to live with Bipolar Disorder. Usually, I am pretty unsure of the accuracy of an individuals account due to the lack of insight that is usually associated with mental health disorders. This was entertaining and read quickly.
Ryan
Nov 10, 2008 Ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Ryan by: I don't remember where I heard about it
In contrast to other popular bipolar memoirs that seek to shock rather than teach, this is a book about hope rather than just pain. That fact alone makes the read worthwhile.

I recommend this book to anyone who still wants to believe in recovery.

Ryan
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