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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Reckless Grace: A Mother's Crash Course in Mental Illness, by Carolyn DiPasquale, is a work of non-fiction in the memoir and health issues subgenres suitable for the general reading audience. The book is a mother's account of her daughter's struggles with her mental health, written reflectively with the help of her daughter's journals after an overdose claims her life. Struggling to understand how she and multiple trained medical professionals failed to notice three major mental illnesses, the author contrasts her own limited observations with the harder truths found in the pages of the journals.
Quality memoirs cannot exist without a certain degree of openness from their writers in discussing the challenging and emotionally damaging parts of their lives. However, there is a degree of rawness beyond that which DiPasquale has permitted readers to see by opening her daughter's journals. In so doing, this story of a young girl's struggles transcends a simple accounting of emotional events to become an essential chronicle of a real-world struggle against personal demons. The balancing of the author's account of her daughter's struggle from the outside looking in, shown against the daughter's authentic journal entries, which chronicle for the reader what has really been happening in her life and mind, was beautiful in its simplicity and execution and helped bridge the gap between the torment of mental illness and what the outside world sees. Overall, Reckless Grace lays bare the pain of not seeing an invisible illness when a loved one suffers from it. After reading this, I truly felt that it placed me in a better position to support friends and family members who are suffering.