Posted in Book Reviews, Marie's Garden

Book Presentation: Sassy, Single, and Satisfied: Secrets to Loving the Life You’re Living by MMH


For All the Single Ladies in the House

My Story with this epic book

When I first came across this book by Michelle Mc-Kinney Hammond, whom I really just so love, I really contemplated whether I should buy it, read it, and review or share my reading /enlightenment journey whenever I was done. I knew even then, that this book wasn’t going to leave me the same although I couldn’t for sure figure out what this book was going to do to me. I could only hope that whenever I did get to read it, I should want to read it a second and third time again. I have had it for 12 months, and I have read it 3 times, and I now feel ready to share my reading/enlightenment journey.

After my third read, I realized I had never looked up the word sassy before:

sassy: ˈsasi/: adjective informal lively, bold, and full of spirit; cheeky.

Single we know or I do, and satisfied I think I do too. Honestly, it is the sassy I didn’t know what to really make of in relation to ME. There is a me and there is a ME and after my divorce in 2011 I can’t even tell which was living inside and outside my body. Today, over 5 years later, thanks in a very large part to the hundreds of books I have read in the past 3 years, from great authors like Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vanzart, MMH… and up coming ones like my friend June Whittle and several fellow bloggers, the inspirational and motivational messages listened reverently to from Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama … I can say I am well on the scale of ME living inside and outside of my body: Closest I feel to being Sassy; Single and Satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, one day I could get back into a relationship, MMH is actually in a fabulous one now – but I guess the big deal is in embracing and loving your singlehood to the point of being sassy and satisfied enough with you and life as is. I think you contribute best to a relationship you go into being whole inside out than otherwise!

What is in this book  Disclaimer: I don’t know what happened to the formatting, just bear with me am no techy

This book is about Love! Wow wow wow… MMH takes us through her personal journey of finding, keeping and sharing love. With who? First with herself; jointly with God; and then with the world; and then with whoever came next by God’s Grace. In this book, no one came next but that was ok for then. The most important she shares in this book is her journey to loving the marvellous mess she had made of herself, and of realising and accepting and surrendering it all to God who in his Awesome Almightiness revealed to her that she had every right to be Sassy; Single and Satisfied until her next chapter as He would will.

MMH uses her knowledge of the bible and much more, to teach us and share with us much of what she has learnt and now knows about Love – and Men – and Lovingly Living with Yourself all through the process of Life. Maybe I am gradually becoming a very intense person or am just being so really ME and sharing same in all vulnerability – but I have no regrets whatsoever.

This is another of those books I can’t do any justice to with any rating or review: has hit me as hard as the Four Agreement and Taking The Mask Off. Before I got married, I never really contemplated what being single meant and how I felt about it. I actually lived that stage of my life out waiting for the next boy friend/man/relationship … a very tiny and near insignificant me to my eyes and mind lived inside my body and I even at one point thought of discarding that body completely from the face of this earth. I can never forget that. This explains my total Gratitude to all who have helped me along my journey to ME. I hope this book does something to anyone who picks it up especially the single women in the house.

About the Author


Michelle McKinney Hammond is the author of over 30 books on living, loving, and overcoming. She is the President and Founder of HeartWing Ministries, which hosts annual DIVA Weekend Getaway Conferences. As a relationship and empowerment coach, internationally known speaker, singer and television co-host, it is Michelle’s mission and passion to help women and men to first be intimately connected to God and then empowered to become their personal best in order to experience victory in every area of their lives.

Michelle’s ministry began many years ago when she suffered a devastating leg injury from being hit by a car. The accident was a spiritual turning point, a wake up call to embrace her purpose and fulfill her destiny. Those bedridden months gave her time to complete her first bestselling book, “What to Do Until Love Finds You.”
Michelle eventually left behind her career as an advertising art director/writer/producer for clients such as Coca Cola USA, McDonald’s Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and others, to speak to audiences, encouraging people to fulfill their God-given purpose in life.

Posted in Marie's Garden

Blogger’s Block, though brighter horizon I forecast

Atouching albeit flatering tribute from one of my lil sis in far off Tanzania
A touching albeit flatering tribute from one of my lil sis in far off Tanzania

I just realized today I haven’t blogged for a few days now. It can happen, but when it’s a conscious decision, I am more at peace. Yet, since I had not decided to take a break from blogging, the realization hit me sort of hard.

Aha, is this blogger block? Yet, it’s not like I even sat down to blog and then couldn’t start typing. I just didn’t get that ‘zeal’ which pricks me to action. And so pals, mindful of the heat anyway, I am taking a blogging break. Don’t ask me how long it’ll last, it may be a few days or weeks. A lot on my plate now and seriously I just can’t wait for July 30 to go HOME.

In the meantime, some bright stuffs too. I mean such to cheer me up. Florah my massai heroine, probably sensed my whatever …, and did the above of my picture. She also put the following collage together:

Different shades of me
Different shades of me

And then, I got an awesome first official review of my last memoir from none other than Jill my blogging granny. I share it with you:

” The acknowledgements are stunning. You have covered so much material. Your description of the emotional abuse you suffered was shattering especially the part where it turned physical. I can’t begin to imagine how you remained in that relationship. Thank goodness for Jeff’s coaching program.
Your 36 points were most informative and I agree with you that when one is able to forgive, one is able to start the healing process.  No forgiveness – difficult to heal.
Marie, your book gave me so much to think about.
I admire you for your honesty.
I admire you for the courage shown in writing this important book.
I admire you for your directness.
I admire you for your ability to pass on your message which will help other women. You are a mental health advocate, a feminist as well as a speaker. I wonder how you manage to do so much my dear? I am proud of you Marie Abanga and I recommend your book with all my heart. may we all find the strength that you have shown”.
From the blogging grandma, Jill Sadowsky.

Dear gentle readers and followers, I’ll be back I promise, let me resource some before my big relocation home. Prepare your kindles for some free downloads coming soon by the way 🙂 Thank you very much for all 🙂

Thank you very much
Thank you very much
Posted in Book Reviews, Mental Health Advocacy, My Heroines

Book review: Divided Minds by Co-authors Pammy and Lynnie


Pammy and Lynnie: sweet twin
Pammy and Lynnie: sweet twins

I don’t know for sure whose head is bent in that picture, but I guess it’s Pammy.  Ok just a silly introduction to this book review.

The Description as featured

A riveting true story of sisters who were identical, until the voices began.

Growing up in the fifties, Carolyn Spiro was always in the shadow of her more intellectually dominant and socially outgoing twin, Pamela. But as the twins approached adolescence, Pamela began to suffer the initial symptoms of schizophrenia, hearing disembodied voices that haunted her for years and culminated during her freshman year of college at Brown University where she had her first major breakdown and hospitalization. Pamela’s illness allowed Carolyn to enter the spotlight that had for so long been focused on her sister. Exceeding everyone’s expectations, Carolyn graduated from Harvard Medical School and forged a successful career in psychiatry.

Despite Pamela’s estrangement from the rest of her family, the sisters remained very close, “bonded with the twin glue,” calling each other several times a week and visiting as frequently as possible. Carolyn continued to believe in the humanity of her sister, not merely in her illness, and Pamela responded.

Told in the alternating voices of the sisters, Divided Minds is a heartbreaking account of the far reaches of madness as well as the depths of ambivalence and love between twins. It is a true and unusually frank story of identical twins with very different identities and wildly different experiences of the world around them. It is one of the most compelling histories of two such siblings in the canon of writing on mental illness.

What I dare have to say

I couldn’t turn off that kindle until I had read the last word. Pammy was already close to my heart before I read this memoir of theirs – so you can imagine where she is now in ranking right?

I recall a post on my other heroine and friend’s blog: I think it was on bipolar guilt by association! Yep that’s it. Could we say Lynnie was same? Let’s leave the different label alone but the point remains that you can’t help not ‘catching the flu’ if you hang around or care for a patient right or wrong? and so what if you do? There is so much to explore in that memoir.

I commend the both authors. Their father’s behaviour and maybe the reasons or the siblings approach to him and Pammy altogether, rings so much of a bell in my own neighbourhood. In my case sadly, my brother died not receiving the wink he so much longed from his father. I have drawn my safe boundary and am peace as is. He can stay in his corner and review his own motives!

It’s by now a fact, that I rate such memoir hardly less than a 5.  If you care about such subjects, add the memoir to your Christmas wish list.

Dear gentle readers and followers, Pammy was my spotlight here on Wednesday and you now see that she deserves much more than that right?

Posted in Book Reviews, Marie's Garden, Mental Health Advocacy, My Memoirs

Book Reviews of My Brother’s Journey

My dearest blogging granny of all times, is the first person to send in a review of My latest release. I was so excited to receive same, and I share with you. I hope many of us download the free kindle for this weekend, and find it in them to do a review sometime. Book Cover CS Thank you Granny, I love you too so much and hope to come see you someday. I lovingly deny I was the most able sibling, I just tried to be a loving sibbling just like my other two sisters.

” My Brother’s Journey from Genius to Simpleton, is a deeply moving, sensitively written account of one family’s struggle with a sick son. To compound matters, it took a long time before the correct diagnosis was given. Marie Abanga describes  her brother Gabriel’s deterioration into a deep depression and how her family battled to cope with the destruction of their once happy family caused by mental illness, without their father’s support. Marie seemed to be the most able sibling to give her brother the support he so badly needed and she gave of her time selflessly an endlessly.

This book was a hard read because mental illness and the subsequent death of the patient are such difficult subjects to deal with. I put myself in the family’s shoes while reading it. I discovered that many fathers are unable to handle mental illness when it affects their immediate families, and find solace elsewhere even though marriages seldom run smoothly. In the case of mental illness, families need the strength of fathers and mothers combined, more than ever.

In addition to endless other problems, Gabriel’s family had to somehow handle the stigma accorded mental illness. Marie’s dream is that one day, there will be no blame, shame and stigma associated with mental illness. And, that is exactly the way I feel and the reason I started blogging about mental illness. If we all speak out, there will be no more stigma.

In the midst of all this upheaval and upset, Marie continued to love her brother. I recommend this book to families with similar problems as well as to professionals working in the field of mental health.”

Jill Sadowsky

Author of David’s Story

Blogger at:-

And what do I say, feel or do when I wake up to comments like this?

” AYO,indeed,the subject matter of your novel emanates from the death of your beloved brother,yet the THEME you have handled is Universal and truly controversial at the same time.The issues raised keep haunting us on a daily basis and at different rungs of the society.A subject matter that many would avoid to discuss and may be scared to talk about but which demands the tack,skills,courage and determination of your type to handle.There is the pressing need for every individual,the world at large to turn attention to the most burning issues raised in this MUST READ NOVEL. Comments by ALEMJI SAMUEL ATABONG, Buea,Cameroon.” GM of ANUCAM Publishing.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mental Health Advocacy

Book Review: Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad

Shadows in the Sun


I am taking a break once more from writing reviews about lives we end up losing. I just realized for over two months, all of my book reviews have a sad ending. Not that the tales in themselves were not pale and full of pain anyway. Look at Nick Traina, Paul Sharples, Debbie, Gabriel, David, weren’t their tales all but that?

But today, I get back to what I call breakthrough tales. Tales of those who somehow made it through their ‘madness’, to get to share their journeys with us. I admire Sebastien Aiden Daniels who keep it up over at Personal Growth for Life. I want to write today about another phenomenal woman I very much look forward to meeting someday.

Gayathri Ramprasad‘s impressive website is as captivating as it is simple to navigate.

The Book

As a young girl in Bangalore, Gayathri was surrounded by the fragrance of jasmine and flickering oil lamps, her family protected by Hindu gods and goddesses. But as she grew older, demons came forth from the dark corners of her fairytale-like kingdom—with the scariest creatures lurking within her.

The daughter of a respected Brahmin family, Gayathri began to feel different. “I can hardly eat, sleep, or think straight. The only thing I can do is cry unending tears.” Her parents insisted it was all in her head. Because traditional Hindu culture has no concept of depression as an illness, no doctor could diagnose and no medicine could heal her mysterious illness.

This beautifully written memoir traces Gayathri’s courageous thirty-year battle with the depression that consumed her from adolescence through marriage and a move to the United States. It was only after the birth of her first child, when her husband discovered her in the backyard “clawing the earth furiously with my bare hands, intent on digging a grave so that I could bury myself alive,” that she finally got the help she needed. After a stay in a psych ward she eventually found “the light within,” an emotional and spiritual awakening from the darkness of her tortured mind.

Gayathri’s inspiring story provides a first-of-its-kind cross-cultural lens to mental illness —how it is regarded in India and in America, and the way she drew on both her rich Hindu heritage and Western medicine to find healing.

My Musings on this

Once I read the book, I first let out a big wow.!!! I was like, how close could that be to you? Men, do people from India also have such tales? Ofcourse she was courageous to put it all out there and now dedicate herself so passionately to mental health Advocacy. It is needless for me to rate this book. A five is not enough because there is much more in there than I could ever muse about.  I just wish many more get a copy or attend one of her free webinars, use a resource or reach out.

Dear gentle readers and followers, as I wrote in my poem on the dark lining, it is possible to stay on top. It ain’t easy, no it ain’t – but it can!!!

Posted in Book Reviews, Mental Health Advocacy

Book Review: Leaving the Hall light on by Madeline Sharples

If you aren't charmed by those eyes then you mat as well be blind!
If you aren’t charmed by those eyes then you might as well be blind!


When I started researching and reading about Bipolar and related stories, hoping to understand some more to help my brother some how, this was the very first memoir I stumbled upon. I just came upon it on the Amazon and then ended up as a guest on Madeline’s blog.

I found all excuses not to do a book review, the obvious then being that it could trigger an episode in my beloved, and maybe lead to another tragic ending? And then,Sherrey Meyer a dear friend of ours who equally interviewed me recently, did a very befitting review of this memoir. So what was there for me to add? I whined there that I had planned on reviewing the memoir but thought Sherrey’s said it all. Sherrey said no two reviews were the same.

The Memoir

A passion for the piano right from birth
A passion for the piano right from birth

One more pale tale. A poor mother has to bury (in this case, burn) the same child she had birthed and nurtured 27 years earlier. To get such a nightmare a few months to ‘christmas’, is simply put devastating.

There is so much information here about the memoir, the resumes of lessons learnt and persons touched and transformed. I mean, until we (the system) understand what goes on or wrong with the brain, screw it and even us up, we can only but go really ‘crazy’ too.

The boy could not understand what was going on, he tried for 7 years, played excellent music to solace him through, and then shut the toilet door to let himself out of this world.

See that piercing/contemplative stare
See that piercing/contemplative stare

Ha, the grief is unimaginable.

My Take on this work

It was after reading this memoir that I started fearing that something could happen to my own brother. Barely three months later, disaster struck indeed. l had learnt two huge things from this memoir: to keep fond memories (and even fun-less ones), and to grieve it out anyway you can. Do I say I am grateful to Madeline for sharing her story? Yes, her story mindful of the enormity of the tragedy.

I don’t care how Madeline sees faith in any supreme being before or thereafter. Indeed, any ‘religious faith’ may only dance with one’s grief but not with the reality of a precious one’s exist.

What I takeaway, is one more of those instances where a mother’s love is proven beyond reasonable doubt (even this expression may not be the best). I mean, there is nothing to prove right?  It’s your son, your womb, your cross, your trouble? The ‘System’, can only give as much of a damn as the credit cards roll. Even then, there is still a lot of hesitation, lousy actions, reactions and worthless argumentation. Call it procedures, rights or whatever…

If loosing a day old daughter can still haunt me this bad every now and then, what am I to expect of mums like Madeline? She did well to transform his room into her office, dedicate a bench at the park for him, compile his songs into a soon to be released CD, Paul on the Pianoand is in the ranks of the Mental Advocates we proudly are.

My Rating

Yes, another 5 star. Read it for yourself and maybe give less, I dunno. It takes Courage, it takes love, it takes determination and dedication to write it all down.

About the Author

AuthorMadelineSharplesThis memoir of hers and her numerous other poems and works, can be found on her site: Madeline Sharples’ maintains a great blog: “Choices” and I find her choice of theme soul searching. She also writes for several websites including Naturally Savvy, PsychAlive, Aging Bodies, and Open to Hope. Madeline Sharples and her husband of 42 years live in Manhattan Beach, CA.

Ah, just like Danielle Steel, here is another fluent author dealt the fate of writing her own son’s tragedy!

Posted in Book Reviews, Marie's Garden, Mental Health Advocacy

Book Review: His Bright Light by Danielle Steel

Gosh, I love this smile, bright light indeed!
Gosh, I love this smile, bright light indeed!


My sweet friend John has this reading list on his blog: I heard him talk sadly fondly about this book and equally read his review. I knew I would loose the few hours of sleep I was getting, if I didn’t get this book. Only its cover brings you to tears. I had to read it quick and do my own review. Especially after suffering similar tragedy, the solace even in reading of others’ grief, is simply put warming.

I was priviledged to have my passion for novels indulged by my father. Books especially novels, have rarely been worth sacrificing the family’s scare income on. I however read Danielle Steel a few times, and it was all idolation. She writes basically fiction, so what was this one all about her son? You sure will want to check it out to find out more for yourselves.

The Book in her own words

This is the story of an extraordinary boy

'Mr Incredible' as he called himself...
‘Mr Incredible’ as he called himself…

with a brilliant mind, a heart of gold, and a tortured soul. It is the story of an illness, a fight to live, and a race against death. – See more at:

I find it hard to copy and paste any further. I however dare some musings

My Take on this tragedy

Another one again? or before? (if you think it was ere in 1997 when MH was ‘worse’ (in terms of several things like diagnosis, treatment, stigma …) than today regardless of your fame/wealth – which she did). That is in America and she had money. It was easy for some to think he was a spoiled brat, acting up, out, within and what else?

I can’t help but compare to some extent, two women. Danielle and my mother. I will even add Madeleine Sharples, who is unfortunately in that category of mums who nearly lost it all. They all loved their boys so bad, were almost the only ones involved save for surrounding support (two of them atleast had that of their husbands), but they felt it hardest because those boys were very much their best friends and dare I say lover?

Look at his smile? My brother had similar, and so did Paul – Madeleine’s boy with such charming eyes. They were all so intelligent and passionate about music although each in his own way.

Passion, and what more do you see?
Passion, and what more do you see?

Danielle strikes me because she thought that even from the age of 2, something was wrong with Nicky (as he was fondly called). She pressed, harassed and pleaded for some diagnosis or even understanding. It wasn’t to be that easy.

The boy wasted away, dazed away and flew away in his brain (his numerous journal eentriesare worth the gold into understanding some of what goes on up there). He did all he could to ‘tame his demons’. He dyed his hair all rainbow colours, tattooed and undid them, redid bigger and daring one,  pierced wherever he could, tried strong drinks, drugs and even acid, before attempting suicide three ghastly times.

The Climax or anti-climax?
The Climax or anti-climax?

The end I guess is obvious. I yet encourage the brave of heart and sorrow to get a copy. Even if only to support the foundation in his honour, please do.

My Rating

Danielle herself says why she wrote that book, and has since then produced revised editions. I equally note how she felt better doing it (I feel same too after completing my brother’s). To read Danielle say she was prepared to try Voodoo to help her son if she knew how; confirms the unconditional love drive.

How on earth can I give this book less than a five star? She is not only emotional, but very rational in her writing and literary flow. She comes across to me as a very humble, modest and grateful woman. I simply wish her and her very big family well. She, an only child who brought forth 9 in return.

Dear gentle readers and followers, it may be sad that lots of such stories come up now and then, of lives lost so young or so tragically. Indeed, Nicky will be missed. He once confessed to his mum that he ‘dreaded turning 20’ – he left at barely 7 months to that birthday!

About the author

Nothing to add
Nothing to add

What can I write about Danielle Steel other than that she is the world’s current best selling author? She sure can be found everywhere: The road maps are on her website –


To add spice to my modest review, I received an email yes from Danielle herself this morning … whoop whoop whoop ain’t I someone? I never thought she would reply to a comment I left on her blog. A few appetizing lines go thus:

I’m especially glad to hear how touched you were by Nick’s book.  Nick was a wonderful, extraordinary boy with a huge heart and many gifts, and it meant a great deal to me to share him with you. I was so sorry to hear of the losses and challenges you’ve experienced in your life and that you continue to experiece.  I admire the courage and compassion you show.  It means a lot to me to know the book brought insight and was a help to you.  I hope you’re also seeking out counseling and medical treatment in Brussels.  My sympathies go out to you as a mother and woman, and I wish you all the best for the future.

Danielle Steel

Thank You, Danielle, thank you all. I am beaming for the whole weekend no matter the weather or environment. I wish us all well-so well!!!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Please Save Me From Myself by S.A.D

Please save me from myself


Disclaimer: S.A.D as abbreviated above has nothing to do with the feeling of loss, a loser or unhappy being. If for anything, the author is a Survivor as you will find out if you read his book and blog among others. His names as is, were too long hence the abbreviation 🙂


On that now ‘infamous’ August 2nd 2014, when I was stunk by Death, I had just purchased four different books on the Amazon. My Choice quickly settled on reading this book because I kept feeling it was my brother saying something. Well, by 11 pm that day, I got the news that I had failed to save my brother from himself. I however courageously decided to finish reading this master piece and I am glad I did and now attempt a befitting review.

Synopsis of the book:

I really prefer to post as is, excerpts from the author’s own description of this power work. I reserve my take in the assigned section to follow soon. So here is what our very Seb says about his memoir:

“My upbringing was pretty good. There were a few fucked up moments and I didn’t learn any helpful coping skills that would suit me as an adult, but I wasn’t locked in a cage and fed baby birds to eat. The first part is about those few fucked up moments and my family dynamics taught me some messed up coping mechanisms such as lying about my emotions until they exploded in my face. I also talk briefly about how the genetics of my family attributed to my mental illness because mental illness is a combination of environment and genetics. I do talk briefly in this part about how I cross dressed in my sister’s clothes once in a while when I was a teenager. You should read it just for that tummy tickler.

“In Part 2 I move into my early college years where I struggled with psychotic thoughts, mild bulimia, unstable identity, had a suicide attempt, stayed in a mental hospital, had multiple therapists and more.

“Part 3 focuses on my time in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and trying to understand myself. This part includes the time when a therapist talked me out of suicide.

“Throughout the journey I am labeled with depression or possible borderline personality disorder or bipolar or emotional dysregulation disorder. Pick a therapist/psychiatrist from my past and each one will have a different diagnosis for you. All I know is that I was struggling to survive. It is quite dramatic parts, so maybe I’m histrionic. I once use to believe I was the reincarnation of Ted Bundy and I would kill a bunch of people so therefore I needed to kill myself before that happened. That’s the kind of “weird” things you can expect in this book.”

My Take on this work:

Now, from the above synopsis, many will agree this memoir is not one to be thrust aside until the final sentence is read. Were it not for my grief at that particular moment, I would have finished the book on that same day.  There are some weird things in that memoir and some very daring, brave, shameless and candid revelations too.

I know what I am talking about because my own memoir (My Unconventional Loves…) published in February, was pretty as revealing. I mean, I was scared by it myself until I published it and then knew I was now out of the closet.

You need to read Seb’s thriller of a memoir to learn of his sexual fantasies and idealizations, his brush with homosexuality, or even his coping with the abortion of his child. Indeed, of all the causes of mental illness, there is so much power in and around our minds, to pull or push us around. I know those of us in the psyche world understand what I mean.

There definitely was no way I could give Seb’s work anything short of a five star. He is a survivor because he is still around inspite of all what he’s been through. I really really would not hesitate recommending this memoir to all I know. Either for yourself or for a close one, it is good to read such first hand account from someone who’s hit rock bottom and is fighting each day to ‘stay afloat’.

About the Author 

MeOnce again, here are his own words:

“I use to run a website for personal growth and mental illness called I stopped doing that for various reasons around May 2013.

I decided to start Personal Growth 4 Life after undergoing over a year of intensive therapy. In total, I have spent a lot lot lot of time in therapy. One thing I learned is that personal growth is something that is a lifelong journey and is something you have to work on continously. It is very easy to step back into old habits.”

Where To Find Sebastian and his memoir:

Personal Growth 4 Life website
Barnes and Noble Nook
ibooks – type in Sebastian Aiden Daniels on Itunes.

Everyone, please do yourself a favor and read Sebastian’s letter to Robin Williams at Personal Growth 4 Life.

You can also read what Seb had to share on writing his memoir right here: We met on that blog when I was hosted by the very kind Madeleine (I am yet to do a review of her memoir which is another power house of a mother dealing with her son’s suicide after suffering with Bi-Polar disorder and al).

Thank you dear gentle readers and followers, thank you Seb. I just returned to Brussels from a grueling trip back home and I knew I had such a wonderful e-family to return too.

Posted in Book Reviews, From Around!

Book Review: Gulabi by Pankaj Suneja

A pretty cover I must admit
A pretty cover I must admit

Hey Pals, I know I said I would start doing book reviews in August, but, I couldn’t wait any longer to do the first of such reviews. Actually, I was surprised to be asked by this Author to review his book. He is thus my Guinea Pig or rather his book is, but fortunately it is in my genre of choice domain: well, creative Non-fiction in this case.

Synopsis of the book

Schizophrenia is challenging disorder often characterized by abnormal social behaviour and a significantly altered perception of reality. Its treatment largely depends on medications and psycho-social interventions but no single approach is widely considered effective for all patients. Through this book I offer my readers a glimpse into the multifaceted world of schizophrenia in the form of fictitious story line revolving around two characters Monty (the psychotic part)  and Virginia (the non psychotic part). The boundary between the two is permeable. Monty conjures up ‘Gulabi’, following his abrupt separation from his long time partner, while Virginia, having suffered from a personal loss sets out to follow her lifelong aspiration to travel the world.

About the Author

Pankaj Suneja is a recent graduate of a Masters of Arts in Psychology. He had a psychotic episode in 2010/2011 and had to suspend his studies. When he got better thanks to medication and family support, he returned to the University in 2013 to finish his thesis. May be of course, his work was on the experience of of trying to understand the occurrence of a psychotic episode in as authentic a manner as possible. He hoped to do this by suspending his medication thinking meds would have interfered with his works. Well, if you read the book, you will realize how difficult that was.

My Take on this work

I am so much in awe at how brilliantly mental health patients can write. My understanding of the whole notion of mental health and ‘patients’, has forever been changed. This book, recounts through short and easy to follow fictitious stories, Monty’s and Virginia’s way of coping with what I will simply call Mental Illness. Although Pankaj thinks Virginia is the non psychotic character, I beg to differ on that because I see her manifesting some of those symptoms like not trusting people, instability in both physical and mental choices.

Monty, hallucinates and now has Gulabi, a firend and dare say lover who loves him unconditionally. The only problem is that Gulabi now threatens to hold him hostage forever by making a very difficult request. Monty really doesn’t think he can make that promise and that is another trigger. The book is a mere 75 pages and l read it in one afternoon. It indeed held my attention for both personal and literary reasons.

My Rating

l give this work a 4/5. I mean, I could have given him a five if only he went the extra mile of making it lengthier and more complete. All I know as an ending is that Monty passed out. Maybe he could have explained why in more details and how if at all, he got help to move on thereafter. Virginia’s own narrative also stops as  abruptly and this leaves a loop hole in my literary appreciation.

I however sincerely commend Pankaj for this work.  When a patient and I stress a ‘Mental Patient’, takes the time to write his experiences as he/she lived it then, and how it played out mostly in the ‘brain’ where nobody could experience, we can only but conclude that all is not lost. Mental Illness is indeed not a death sentence and stigma only adds to brain damage.

A visit to his website to show some love, and why not order a copy of his book, will probably be most appreciated by his modest person.