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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Runaway Train: When Depression Meets Heartbreak by Mark Torphy takes you into the troubled mind of an African-American man who suffers from depression, aggravated by heartache. This book sheds light on the common myths and misconceptions about men and depression. It is a true story that is even more pressing as it tackles the often unspoken pain that African-American men go through and how much this affects the quality of their lives. This deeply personal and passionate memoir is written in the first-person POV. It shows you the author’s daily struggle of having to drag himself to work and deal with his immediate vicinity while suppressing his feelings because he has been taught that men should be strong. As the author goes through the stages of pain and internalization, he addresses the roots of black male depression and how ignoring it is keeping him blind.
Powerful and enlightening, Runaway Train is a must-read work. Mark Torphy has painted a naked reality that will jolt you into awareness, especially when you learn that black people in the United States are subject to more factors that drive depression such as poverty, violence, and racism-related stressors that degrade their mental and emotional well-being. As for Torphy’s relationship, Amber Johnson may appear to be the antagonist here, but in a way, she serves as a catalyst for him to have an epiphany of change by showing him who she truly is. The heartbreak that she has inflicted upon him may have given him scars, but it didn’t break him. There is no masking of ill feelings here, which makes this memoir raw and genuine. For anyone who will read this, the best lesson you can glean from this true-to-life tale is that it is not necessary to hold on to masculine ideals to fight mental and emotional distress.