...[an] extraordinary and courageous book ... No doubt if everyone were to read this book, the world would change. But its clumsy title (taken from a stunningly cruel offhand remark by one of Scott Walker’s staffers) is painfully correct ... it’s impossible to read his book without being overcome by empathy for his family, respect for his two beleaguered boys and, by the end, faith in the resilience of the human heart ... Like many families that have struggled with mental illness, the Powerses have seen way beyond their reasonable share of darkness, but they do eventually find a kind of hope and strength. This brave book — which reads like the act of consecration it is — imparts both, and demands society do the same for all who struggle.
...the author risks scaring away readers uncomfortable with darkness. But those who stay will learn not only what the stakes are but also why they are on this journey. The stay is worth it, for what unfolds is one of the most engrossing accounts of raising a family I have ever read, one in which Mr. Powers makes universal his themes of parental love, bewilderment and rage at the vagaries of biological fate.
This is no easy-stroll primer. Well-researched (complete with citations and footnotes), it is a deep dive into the horrors of how the mentally ill have been treated over the centuries, told with a decided point of view — one that rarely entertains the notion that others might see things differently ... One wonders, however, if in this era of harsh discourse, when many are growing weary of us-and-them arguments and pronouncements that allow for no middle ground, this level of tenacious condescension will help secure the allies he seeks in his somewhat encouraging final chapter.