Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness

Fiction - Drama
496 Pages
Reviewed on 01/25/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness by Marti Eicholz is an engrossing story that is character-driven and explores the journey of Mary Turner, a woman who had a difficult childhood and who has never felt like she really belonged. Determined to succeed, she elopes with Adam, her new love. But the birth of her child, Scotty, comes with new challenges and her difficulty in emotionally connecting with the child becomes evident. Diagnosed with bipolar illness, she leaves her child and Adam and moves to Las Vegas where she gives in to booze and drugs and makes a lot of money moving drugs. But she eventually leaves the life of a junkie behind and moves on. When she comes home, intending to reconnect with Adam and her child, she meets Luke, her old friend and an addict, and a strong romance starts between the two. But Luke leads her onto a path that will bring her more pain, the loss of a child, and prison. Is there any room for healing for her?

This is a spellbinding story with strong themes, including love and family, loss and grief, parenting, and abuse. The story is fast-paced and filled with action and I particularly liked the psychological and emotional depths of the story. The characters are wonderfully developed, and readers will enjoy how realistically Mary Turner is written. Her childhood lays the foundation of her adult life and the trials she faces as she matures. The prose is crisp, and Marti Eicholz keeps the writing balanced and deft. The scenes are focused and the points of view of the characters are unmistakably clear. Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness is filled with pathos, humanity, and realism; it’s a great read.

Mamta Madhavan

Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness by Marti Eicholz gives a poignant and insightful account of Mary Turner's life fraught with anxiety and fear. After she graduated from high school, she found a full-time job as a seamstress and moved out of her family home. Mary met up with Adam but she always overwhelmed him with her demands for love and devotion. They both attended counseling sessions to work on their sense of identity. Mary and Adam slowly got comfortable and happy with each other and decided to get married during a trip to Las Vegas. After their son Scotty was born, Mary started showing concerning symptoms and was diagnosed as bipolar. She had problems bonding with her son and over time her drug use escalated. Mary started becoming fully aware that her addiction was ruining her personal relationships and she was powerless.

Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness by Marti Eicholz is a heartrending story of healing and recovery and looks at the different facets of mental illnesses. It chronicles the painful journey of Mary, Adam, and Scotty as they try to get their lives back to normalcy after her mental illness, abandoning her family and going off, reconnecting with Luke, a fellow addict, helping him smuggle drugs out of the country, and getting pregnant with his child. The characters are well sketched and they are real, relatable, and memorable. Mary's story will resonate with many readers out there who have had heartbreaking journeys and will give them the hope of managing their illness and healing. The detailed narration and descriptions of events make the story palpable. The story is fast-paced and will pull readers into the book, making them feel the pain, the struggles, and the angst Mary experienced.

K.C. Finn

Petals is a work of fiction that centers around personal emotive drama and was penned by author Marti Eicholz. Subtitled ‘Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness’, the novel focuses on the turbulent life and many struggles of the central character Mary Turner. From the difficulties of her own childhood and a sense of feeling truly unwanted and ignored, Mary grows up to aspire to craft a life of her own away from her family, but issues such as post-natal depression, substance abuse and severe problems of self-esteem force her life to go in directions which she doesn’t always understand or have control over. What results is a heart-breaking tale of realistic personal issues, but also of finding your way on the rocky road of life.

Author Marti Eicholz is unafraid of tackling hard-hitting issues, and the work that’s put into developing the realism of the characters in this novel truly speaks for itself. Despite the difficulties that we see Mary go through, and some of the deeds she does (which may be quite shocking and upsetting to more sensitive readers), she is a character whose heart we can clearly see, and someone we continue to root for despite it all. This craftsmanship also extends into the wider cast, who are each fully formed with their own motivations and ideas, creating a highly emotive drama that sucks you in from cover to cover. Overall, Petals will take its readers on a wild journey through the tumult of life and every page is its own emotive experience.

Lesley Jones

In Petals by Marti Eicholz, from the moment Mary Turner was born, she felt unwanted. Both her parents had been left emotionally damaged by past events and viewed her arrival as problematic. As soon as Mary graduated, she left home and began her search for acceptance and a better life. When she met Adam, Mary felt he would be the one to rescue her and soon their whirlwind romance led to a wedding in Las Vegas and shortly after their son Scotty was born. Mary's behavior became troubling, causing her to neglect Scotty. Mary was diagnosed with bipolar and eventually realized that her family would be better off without her. Mary's search for happiness led her into the depraved world of drugs in Las Vegas where she faced even more tragedy. It was only when she arrived in Sedona that Mary eventually found peace and finally discovered how to love herself. Hoping to share her joy with the family she had abandoned, Mary instead fell into the arms of an addict, who had a dangerous proposition for her.

The subject matter of Petals by Marti Eicholz is intensely raw, engaging and written with brutal honesty. Mary is a wonderful character with a kind caring nature but so emotionally damaged because of the distorted way she views others and the world. The family history of Mary's parents was important to include and gave me a better insight into why they treated her with such little regard. The symptoms of bipolar disorder were relayed in a very sympathetic manner too and exposed the reality of living with mental illness. There were some very moving moments throughout, especially those that dealt with grief, substance abuse, and loss. For me, the main message I gained from this gripping story was the importance of communicating your feelings with those close to you and how your past problems, if not dealt with, can affect the next generation. Mary was searching for others to rescue her, but this is such a moving story of a woman's realization that she was always capable of rescuing herself.

Rabia Tanveer

Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness by Marti Eicholz is the story of a woman who learned that living with mental illness is like a war raging inside your mind and body. The moment Mary Turner became an adult, she packed her bags, left her childhood home and decided she would only look to the future and never look back. Meeting Adam was a surprise, but it was a good one. Getting married to him seemed like the best decision to make, but things didn’t go as planned. Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was a shock to her, but what shook her little family the most was her addiction. It ate away at her life and soon she realized that being an addict and a mother is not a good mix. Now the ball is in her court. Will she decide to fight her addiction, or will the addiction take over her life?

When you pick up Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness by Marti Eicholz, be prepared for naked emotions and the hardships of a woman who tries and loses her battle with mental illness. Mary isn’t like other people, but she is a slave to her disease. She has a hard time coming to terms with her condition and once she realized that she had lost control of her life, it spiraled down from there. The opening of the novel is very powerful and you will experience Mary’s life from the very beginning. Her story isn’t limited because the author holds nothing back when it comes to sharing Mary’s life with the reader. It isn’t gory, but it is very raw. You feel her pain and her desperation as she becomes a mother of two and yet she has nothing to show for her years. She had big dreams, but she was never able to make them come true. You will feel a connection with her from the moment her story begins. This is a novel that will make you sit back, read carefully and appreciate your life more. A moving narrative and beautifully handled.