screenshot133Emma Forrest’s Your Voice In My Head is part memoir, part tribute, and absolutely un-put-down-able.  I’m not kidding. I read the entire book on a recent quiet Friday night.  I was that enthralled.

I loved Forrest’s writing style. Her British upbringing shows in the language and cadence of her writing. She presents the agony and ecstasy of her illness in a clear, concise manner. There is no “woe is me, I’m mentally ill.” But what we do get is a story that is sometimes painfully honest in its exploration of illness. I wouldn’t presume to know what the highs and lows of bi-polar disorder are like, but Emma made me really feel for her. I had an appreciation for the desperation, loneliness, and depression she felt.  And I was so happy for her when she learned enough about her self to know when the bad times are coming. I hope that doesn’t sound trite. The heart of the book, though, is Forrest’s tribute to her late psychiatrist.  The snippets from the guest book from the doctor’s obituary are so touching. You can sense just how many people this man influenced over the course of his life; the people whose lives he truly did help save.

I don’t think this book is in any way exploitative of mental illness- it’s just Emma’s story, told in her voice, the good and the bad, and ultimately with a triumph of manageability.  But it sucks you in. It allows you to feel empathy for people suffering from mental illness.  It gives you hope in the heroism of ordinary people, just trying to make it through the day.  Add this one to your non-fiction must-read list.