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Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child's Mental Illness

4.80  ·  Rating details ·  45 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The terms "mental illness" and "mental health" are often used casually, but many don't believe mental illness is relevant to their lives. However, studies show that more people live with mental illness than heart disease, lung disease, and cancer combined.

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is the story of one family's journey through schizophrenia, navigating the uncharted wate
Paperback, 290 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Familius
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4.80  · 
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 ·  45 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Ellen Gable
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent read, well-written and compelling. Thankfully, we are moving away from the stigma of talking about mental illness. Back in the sixties, my father (now deceased) suffered from schizophrenia as well as manic depression. But it wasn’t something he could share with either employers or anyone outside of the family. In this book, the author takes us step by step through her journey of, at first, disbelief, then frustration to — finally — hope and recovery. Highly recommend!
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is the true story of how one woman deals with her adult daughter’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, several hospitalizations, legal issues, and other family crises, over a two-year period, including: infertility, the death of an infant grandson, and her daughter-in-law’s breast cancer. This memoir describes how the family struggles with these difficult issues and responds to the setbacks with the help of trusted friends and support groups.

Once I began reading Broken Brai
Mary Kenyon
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of this amazing book. This family's journey through a diagnosis of mental illness should be a "must-read" on every health professional's list, as well as anyone who is facing a similar diagnosis. This author brings hope and inspiration to families who are struggling to navigate a path no one wants to talk about.
Barbara White
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspiring, courageous story of one family’s journey through the fear and isolation of mental illness. It sends the most powerful message of all: there is always hope.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in the Reader's Coffeehouse group on Facebook. It is not a book I would have picked up on my own - I don't have a child with a mental illness and I don't often read nonfiction. Saying all that, I loved it. It is well written, engaging, and readable. Virginia Pilllars is helping to take mental illness out of the dark and showing that it is no different than a physical illness. It just happens to be an illness that hits the brain. She also shows that with faith and support from fam ...more
Michelle Buckman
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mothers handling children with mental issues
In this engaging read, far from being merely an account of handling mental illness, Virginia Pillars discloses the realities of dealing with her daughter's schizophrenia. We see every step of her journey, the failures and successes, and her steadfast love for her family. Virginia's honest account drew me in and carried me to the end with a overall message of faith and hope.
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Virginia Pillars' memoir of a mother navigating the world of parenting a young adult with a brand-new diagnosis schizophrenia is at once heart-wrenching, informative and inspiring. Pillars honestly describes her day-by-day experience with her daughter's illness and recovery, with a view toward helping other families whose lives are touched by a frustrating disease.
(ARC provided by author)
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't think I'd have the strength to finish this--it is very real and descriptive, heartbreaking. Like The Shack, I had to put it aside after the first few pages. But I made myself sit back down. Then I couldn't stop. I read it entirely in (almost) one sitting. What an amazing and inspirational story! While my relative had a different mental illness causing her psychosis, the pain it caused me and my family was identical to the Pillars'. It is so good to know that God never abandons us. Mrs. ...more
Eva Marie Everson
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having lived through this nightmare myself, this book kept me riveted. Highly recommended!
Mary Jedlicka Humston
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received a review copy of "Broken Brain, Fortified Faith" by Virginia Pillars. What an amazing book of hope and determination! When her college-educated daughter Amber began exhibiting unusual actions and symptoms, Pillars and her family were taken on a journey filled with pain and the eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia. Virginia Pillars doesn't hold back. She delivers a nitty-gritty story filled with her honest emotions, deep faith, and a strong love of family. This book will touch readers l ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting book, would make a great book discussion!
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very good book. Heart wrenching.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I don't remember when or how this book came to my attention, but it's been on my to-read list for a while, one because the author is a fellow Iowan, and two because she writes about a subject on which the general public is not well-informed. Mental illness is also a matter of concern in our state given the state's cuts in funding and services in recent years. Pillars does not touch on those issues. Rather she relates her family's experience with her daughter's mental illness.

Writing from her he
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Virginia Pillars won an award for this memoir that she writes with utmost honesty about the trials suffered by the members of her family as they face a diagnosis of schizophrenia in their adult child. I am not even halfway through the journey to find Amber where she has retreated inside herself, and I care so much about her and her parents and how they are going to survive. Yet their faith is strong as Mom and Dad pray together for God's help. Did I say this author is honest? Oh yes, she uses he ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
What an awesome book!!!! I loved the last line in the book, a quote by C.S. Lewis, "Don't shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you others see Him." Thank you Virginia, for being courageous enough to write your family's story. Oh how I long for another family to receive the same hope, help, and healing you found and shared with all of us! So happy for Amber and for all of you! Thank you for loving her enough to get her help!!!! I know how much mental illness can affect extended fami ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Virginia wasn’t a writer before this book- but wow, she has some really inspiring perspectives and stories and I am so glad she decided to share them with the world. Her strength is unbelievable, and her relationship with her family is clearly very strong too. Her desire to understand the trials she’s been through and to compile resources and anecdotes will comfort any parents going through similar diagnoses and journeys. This is a must-read for Mental Health Awareness, this month and every mont ...more
Lisa Lewis
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mental illness is so overlooked in many ways. Sometimes symptoms have to get to a breaking point for families agree to seek care. In many situations brain dysfunction sneaks in the back door. Broken Brain, Fortified Faith is a story of a mother's love and devotion. It is also a story of a daughter's struggle and beauty. The obstacles and difficulties Pillars writes in her memoir are portrayed with raw emotion. I admire Amber's courage and Virginia's bravery for telling her story. A must read!
Debbie Chiulli
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I won this book and it’s not a book I would have selected. That being said, I couldn’t put it down. Knowing this was a real life event, I needed to know if the family stayed intact. What truly surprised me were the other life events the family endured. And the author strong faith was doubted. I definitely recommend Broken Brain, Fortified Faith.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My husband and I listened to this book while our daughter was struggling with mental health issues. It was very hard to listen to. But it was also very encouraging. This book helped me to keep my focus on God and all that He has done for us, rather than on all the ways we were struggling and being failed by the healthcare system in this country.
Annemarie Guertin
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Any families that have a loved one that struggles with mental illness this book is for you. This story outlines that struggles of schizophrenia and its impact on a family. I found this book not only informative but inspiring. Though the road to recovery may be long it’s attainable and this book highlighted just that.
Jocelyn Green
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
An engaging account of one family's heart-wrenching struggles, and the hope that saw them through. I appreciate having new insight into schizophrenia, an illness I knew next to nothing about. This well-written book is both brave and inspiring.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be an excellent resource for families who care for mental illness sufferers. Pillars has written about her daughter who began exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia in her late teens and early twenties. Through the Virginia's well told story, we learn that good outcomes rely on family, friends and mental health professionals working together and supporting each other.
Virginia's own research is also great and recommends some very good further reading resources and support group
Pam Lobley
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a riveting story written with honesty and strength. Terrific book!
Meggie Daly
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
BROKEN BRAIN, FORTIFIED FAITH is a wonderful book and very helpful for those who have families touched by mental illness, especially schizophrenia as was my family. I found this memoir encouraging and educational. The reader followed not only Amber's progress from the initial break with reality to independence and self-knowledge but the ensuing family dynamics. I highly recommend this well-written book.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Virginia Pillars writes with utmost honesty in this award-winning memoir about the trials suffered by her family facing a diagnosis of schizophrenia in an adult child. Not only does Pillars have to face her daughter’s illness, she also has to fight to find medical and legal assistance necessary to save her. It is a story that resonates with any family facing the serious illness of a child. Pillars’ beautiful narration brings the reader with her as she witnesses her daughter fall deeper and deepe ...more
Cheryl Curry
rated it it was amazing
Sep 13, 2016
Melanie Samojla
rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2017
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Jul 19, 2017
Abby Albert
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Nov 17, 2016
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Virginia Pillars lives on a farm, along with her husband of forty-three years. She is the mother of four, one of whom suffered from a mental illness, and a grandmother of four with a passion for reaching out to families who are also affected. She details her journey through mental illness with her child in her memoir, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness,