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Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood
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Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  246 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
""My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad. I thought that I would be the one to escape.""So begins Adrienne Martini's candid, compelling, and darkly humorous history of her family's and her own experiences with depression and postpartum syndrome.

Illuminating depression from the inside, Martini delves unflinchingly into her own breakdown and
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Free Press
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Nov 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Society has its ideas of what motherhood looks like; we get them from television commercials, magazine covers, and our own naïve misconceptions. And then there is Postpartum Depression, an element of motherhood that is seldom glamorized, unless of course we’re talking about Andrea Yates. Adrienne Martini’s memoir, Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood is an exploration of her own misconceptions as they collide head-on with the real thing. Despite the incredible genetic disposition ...more
I really admire this author for opening up on a topic that is so hard for women. Post-partum depression can be a very serious medical condition but one that a lot of women go through without the support or sympathy they need to get back on track. I was lucky of my four children; I never went through this but my heart goes out to the women, and their families who have.

Adrienne Martini was honest with her life and her battles reaching out to those that feel overwhelmed in such a...these are the f
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
After reading halfway through this book, I tired of all the metaphors and similies. ENOUGH! But, once I reached Chapter 7, it became less about familial history and more about her account of Post-Partum Depression. Having gone through this myself with my first child, I had an eerie connection to the writer. We are approximately the same age, have two children and husbands who stood by us and held us through it all.
We both experienced fear... for my saftey and my child's...for months... all beca
The story in this book is genuinely good. I enjoyed it. However, the writing was so awful that I really wonder how the author gets paid to do this for a living. She switches between tenses so frequently (within the same sentence, at times) that I found myself wondering if I was reading something that was happening, had happened, or would happen in the future. I also really dislike when authors pull giant sections from their journals or diaries. There were a lot of said chunks in this book, makin ...more
Dec 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: moms.
LOVED this book! Great look at postpartum depression and mental illness in general. As a mom I can relate to the authors worries about trying to be the "perfect" mom - I never struggled with PPD like she did but I have, like most moms, struggled with trying to be the "perfect" mom and feeling inadequate over NOT being the "perfect" mom. We all need to realize that JUST loving our kids is enough - if we just love them and take it day by day - there is no need to be "perfect" and it is okay to ask ...more
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I wish I had read it before I had a baby or shortly after, when I was going through some of the same stuff the author did. It would have made things a lot better to know I wasn't alone. I really admire Adrienne Martini's truthfulness about what it's like to be pregnant and give birth and suddenly be in charge of a "sub-ten pound human." I will definitely read anything else of hers that I can find.
This memoir is journalistic rather than literary. The subject is postpartum depression and societies view of mental illness in general. No new ground is covered. The title is misleading as there is not much Gothic and even less hillbilly about it.
As represented in her memoir, Martini and I have a lot in common: a good education, giftedness, a supportive husband, career-mindedness, and a wish to see mental illness recognized as a medical, not moral, problem. Martini paints a very moving picture of her family, going back to her great-grandmother, and all of their (known) psychological issues. It's particularly important that many of the women in her family have developed a postpartum mood disorder after the birth of their first child or th ...more
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I finished this memoir this morning and I highly recommend it. The writing was superb, the subject matter was important and informative and there was just enough humor to lighten a difficult story. Told with brutal honesty, I commend Martini for sharing her story. Although it focuses on her experience with postpartum depression, it also deals very heavily with the mother/daughter relationship. A very complex and difficult experience for many women.

I have never had postpartum depression, but I di
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Talking about reading, I finished Hillbilly Gothic 2 weeks ago. I tore thru that book as if it were on fire. I really enjoyed it and I am glad to have read it. There were places I recognized between those pages. Situations I had been but never described to someone. And while this all sounds implausible as I have neither had a child or been institutionalized.. I recognized the familial relationships. Rachel recommended it, and I actually got to meet Adrienne at the KR Retreat. That was a pleasure ...more
Sonya Feher
Jul 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, parenting
This feels like a mission book: I had PPD and if you ever do, here's some advice, here's how I got through it, so you can get through it too. When she's specific, Martini is funny with an ability to casually describe something in conversational language, throw in a pop culture reference and be self deprecating or sarcastic. The history of madness in her family, her work history, and the geographical diary of where she lived and what she did there are all covered in way too much detail and take a ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An entertaining read, but not entirely satisfying. It is, on one hand, a memoir, but it is also a sociological/anthropological reflection on an isolated and marginalized subsection of American culture, while also providing intermittent quotes from psychology articles written on the subject Post-Partum Depression, depression and metal illness in general, and motherhood. The irony of the book being a memoir about mental illness, is that the organization is so fragmented - schizophrenic, almost, if ...more
Oct 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
The first opening line is (or something similar) "Our family has a grand tradition. The women give birth and then go mad."
This is a fascinating memoir about a southern family whose woman all deal with post partum psychosis and other forms of mental illness that seems to rear its ugly ahead immediately after childbirth. All though the authors slang and abbreviated words were at times a slight bit annoying, I commend her for her brutal honesty and her williness to talk about what its like to have
Sep 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
What do you do when your own mother (and possibly generations of women in your family) have too many mental health and other problems to be anything but a destructive force? Where is the line between a normal amount of ambivalence about motherhood and complete dysfunction?
It's well written and thought provoking for those of you with happy families. For the rest of us, it may be one of the few honest portrayals of conflicted feelings about motherhood and parental relationships that can't be men
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Martini's writing style and personal insights, and found much of that helpful in putting words to the experience of my own mental health party. Not previously being aware of the issue of postpartum depression, it was informative for that as well.

I couldn't tell her the truth [about giving birth], about the pain and the blood. It's like getting the best Christmas present ever, but Santa decided to kick the crap out of you before you unwrapped it. No one wants to know the truth.


A cert
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I really admire Martini's courage, admitting to having any mixed feelings about being around your own baby is pretty taboo, but she didn't let that stop her. I also admire her courage for having another baby--after setting up a support system. It still must have been really scary.
This book is a combination memoir/history (or should it be herstory?) of post-partum depression and pyschosis. It is very well written and intesresting.
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This novel was not what I expected, it was so much better. I thought it would be light reading and

It is told by a young woman after giving birth to her first child. She is blindsided by a feeling of
deep depression. Diagnosed as postpartum depression, she winds up on Tower 4 in a psychiatric
unit. Tears stream contantly down her face. After treatment she returns home and gradually
Trish Lindsey
Jun 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This memoir delves into the mysterious power of hormones that rage after childbirth. The author's nightmare-like experience with madness (and the family history of it), will serve countless women who find themselves in a similar situation. Every obgyn and psychiatrist should be forced to read this book, to peer into the most private thoughts and fears of hormonally-induced depression and/or insanity.
An excellent read for the rest of us, too!
Sep 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
I picked this book up at the library based on the terrific title. Although I really wanted to like the story (the author lived in Austin for awhile and wrote for The Chronicle), I was bored by all the unneccesary details about family background and random history of various cities. As a counselor, I wanted to know more about the progression of her illness. The snarky tone and endless metaphors made me give up and I just couldn't finish this book.
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Since I am pregnant, why not read a book about postpartum depression? Uplifting! But this book was actually occasionally funny and very interesting. I now know what to look for when someone goes a bit mad after giving birth. I think I should be able to recognize the signs, but hopefully it won't be me!
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: bored women
I picked this up because I liked the title. Really, though, it was kind of boring. Here's the whole book: fragmented bits of the author's genealogy, fractured landscapes of Knoxville, a baby, and lots and lots of crying. The loony bin wasn't as exciting here as it is in other memoirs, and I don't think the author was clever.
Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this book in my car and it made me laugh in traffic...people were staring at me while I was driving. Adrienne describes depression in such a way, even folks who have never been depressed will understand how it feels. So candid and real, this is an awesome read for anyone suffering from PPD or just plain old baby blues.
Valerie F
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: new moms
Shelves: memoir
A balanced account of post-partum depression. Not everyone is either in a state of bliss or drowning their kids a la Andrea Yates. It's refreshing that the author could share an experience in the gray area, even if she occasionally tries too hard to get the snarky comment in.

Read for Elle Reader Prize Non-fiction 2006
Jul 29, 2011 added it
Honest. You don't have to be depressed to feel some of the feelings the author had after having her baby, but not many people talk about it. It did make me very happy that my post-partum experience was very uneventful, so to speak.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it
The first chapter had me really hooked, but it soon became too self-absorbed. I felt similarly as when reading An Unquiet Mind....I'm sorry things are so difficult for people with mental disorders but hey, life is difficult even if you don't (or maybe I do and I'm just in denial).
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
An excellent memoir of a Woman who gets pregnant despite the long family history of postpartum depression and how she was able to battle her illness and get better. She then was able to have a second child with better tools and knowledge going forward.
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great read. Loved it.
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book has the best description of the discombobulating post-partum time of anything I have ever read.
Sueann MacLachlan
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting memoir about families and depression as well as post-partum depression. Very witty writer.
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Too much background, not enough crazy.
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“It's like getting the best Christmas gift ever, but Santa decided to kick the crap out of you before you unwrapped it.” 37 likes
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