Fiction - Social Issues
138 Pages
Reviewed on 03/07/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rolanda Lyles for Readers' Favorite

Lynn McLaughlin’s Jackson is about the struggle of living with mental illness. This story centers on Jackson and his mother, June. Jackson’s dialogue narrates the struggles of coping with severe anxiety, and his mother’s dialogue expresses her struggles while caring for someone with mental health issues. Jackson is full of emotional highs and lows, but the love that they share guides them through to a hopeful conclusion.

Jackson masterfully portrays the raw and emotional ups and downs of living with mental illness. McLaughlin also adequately portrays the anguish and frustration that comes with supporting a person dealing with mental illness. I especially like how June, a typical mother, wants to help and support Jackson even when he makes bad decisions. She essentially almost takes on his illness and struggles as well in the form of her own anxieties over his reactions to triggers and poor decision making. McLaughlin shows us how some forms of mental illness can manifest as explosive rage and temper tantrums. There were many times where Jackson would explode at his parents, his mom in particular, but June maintained self-control and used her steps they learned in counseling.

Lynn McLaughlin’s Jackson is powerfully written and gives an honest depiction of parents’ experience of trying to get to the bottom of a mental health issue to assist their child in coping with his illness. I appreciate the research that clearly was done in order to give accurate information and educate readers on the struggles of living with mental illness. Jackson is packed with helpful tips for those seeking to support and guide but not enable those who struggle with mental illness. A great source of information, and a powerful story of love, hope, and the drive to persevere.

Tammy Ruggles

Jackson by Lynn McLaughlin is a short work of fiction that unmasks the tragedy and triumph of mental illness. This fight for psychological survival centers on Jackson and his mother. Jackson is symbolic of millions living with some form of mental illness, and his mother represents the millions who have their own struggles caring for someone with a mental health issue. This story is about the two people separately, and together. It's mental illness that knits them together, but love that guides them through the dark waters of it. The book opens with Jackson telling his story of how it was for him when he was young and at school, about his anger toward feeling different from others but trying hard to fit in. He felt like he was the only one in the world that felt the way he did. Then we move to June's story, where she gives the family background and what it was like being a mother to Jackson, raising him and watching helplessly as he grappled with his issues, and her own.

McLaughlin has a raw, emotional way of relaying the anguish and frustration that comes with mental illness in a family. I especially like how June is portrayed as the typical loving mother, and Craig the typical father, who can see that their child is struggling with explosive rage and temper tantrums. Like most parents, they just don't understand what it means, and they blame themselves, and each other. I like that they try their best to figure it out, consult with professionals, and still didn't have answers. This is an honest portrayal of the process that most parents go through to get to the bottom of a mental health issue. As you read, you will appreciate Jackson's point of view, feel for his struggle, and admire how he tries to help himself and sort it all out. The author has done a great service with this book, by shining a light on families who deal with mental illness. The author includes info and resources for readers too. Make sure to put Jackson by Lynn McLaughlin at the top of your self-help reading list.