Joan's Reviews > The Long Journey Home: A Memoir

The Long Journey Home by Margaret Robison
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's review
Mar 07, 2011

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Read from February 12 to March 06, 2011

I received this book as a First Reads Edition and was really excited to read it. Having finished the book I am feeling rather mixed. It was a bit disjointed as I have seen other reviewers mention. To be fair the author has had multiple psychotic breaks and a massive stroke and freely admits to gaps in her memory so a fully linear narrative is not a fair expectation and probably not even necessary. There are some very strong images and feelings evoked as the author discusses her battle with mental illness and her determination to return to as normal a life as possible after a stroke which left her initially with severe speech limitations and permanent paralysis on her left side. These sections of the book are compelling and I would have loved to have read more about her personal struggles and the strength she had to overcome them. She was less successful at describing her relationships with others. Ironically her son, John Elder is best known for his memoir about his own experience with Aspergers Syndrome and I see definite traits toward the same sort of difficulty with relationships and difficulty breaking out of herself existing within the author. She sometimes uses the individuals in her narrative, who she states had great influence and meaning to her as props or asides in detailing her own story. While I don't doubt that much of her other son, Augusten's Burroughs' account of their life from Running With Scissors is exaggerated, it is easy to see traces of the self obsessed, self important woman portayed in his narrative within Margaret's own narrative. She is least successful when attempting to defend herself from both of her sons' portrayals of her and would perhaps have been better off not even responding to the previous writing. She has a fascinating story to tell in her own right and when the author focuses on her personal narrative and experiences and avoids convincing us that she is a talented writer, artist and misconstrued woman she succeeds in having us see the unique person she is. I would recommend this as an interesting first hand account of mental illness and recovery from multiple traumas.

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02/13/2011 page 80
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