A compassionate, heartrending memoir of a mother’s quest to accept her son’s journey through psychosis.
One night in 2009, Tanya Frank finds her nineteen-year-old son, Zach—gentle and full of promise—in the grip of what the psychiatrists would label a psychotic break. Suddenly and inexplicably, Tanya is thrown into a parallel universe: Zach’s world, where the phones are bugged, his friends have joined the Mafia, and helicopters are spying on his family.
In the years following Zach’s shifting psychiatric diagnoses, Tanya goes to war for her son, desperate to find the right answer, the right drug, the right doctor to bring him back to reality. She struggles to navigate archaic mental healthcare systems, first in California and then in her native London during lockdown. Meanwhile, the boy she raised—the chatty, precocious dog-lover, the teenager who spent summers surfing with his big brother, the UCLA student—suffers the effects of multiple hospitalizations, powerful drugs that blunt his emotions, therapies that don’t work, and torturous nights on the streets. Holding on to startling moments of hope and seeking solace in nature and community, Tanya learns how to abandon her fears for the future and accept the mysteries of her son’s altered states.
With tenderness, lyricism, and generous candor, this compelling story conveys the power of a mother’s love. Zig-Zag Boy is both a moving lamentation for things lost and a brave testament to the people we become in difficult circumstances.
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