The Unknown Face

A memoir of marriage, mental illness, and the search for why

Non-Fiction - Memoir
262 Pages
Reviewed on 06/06/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Unknown Face is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, grief, and psychological writing subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience as it contains discussions of suicide. Penned by author Gregory Duncan, this true-life account follows a marriage that unravels tragically in a Virginia college town, culminating in suicide rather than divorce. The husband's journey to understand this devastation leads him to uncover astonishing and heartbreaking truths six months later. The memoir delves into the hidden aspects of their seemingly normal relationship, illustrating how suppressed issues can lead to one's greatest downfall. Duncan provides an in-depth psychological account of coping with extreme events and behaviors, offering insights into the lessons learned from profound loss and the collapse of personal facades.

Author Gregory Duncan has crafted a deeply emotional and thought-provoking memoir with this raw and honest portrayal of his marriage's descent into tragedy. The narrative voice struck a powerful chord from the start, beginning with the novel-like familiarity of a love story, but quickly diving into the complexities of mental illness and the hidden struggles that ultimately led to a heartbreaking end. Duncan’s introspective journey, marked by pain and regret, was both compelling and educational, with powerfully atmospheric language that describes the crushing weight of grief and regret. His detailed psychological exploration of their relationship sheds light on the often-unseen aspects of mental health issues and their impact on loved ones, which is a very important message in today’s fast-paced world. The memoir’s candidness about extreme behaviors and the aftermath of his wife's suicide provided a poignant reminder of the importance of open communication in relationships, and this was delivered with compassion and empathy. Overall, The Unknown Face recounts personal loss in a moving and resonant way, but also offers valuable lessons on resilience, understanding, and the search for meaning in the wake of tragedy.