Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypole White


“Been in and out of places like this since I was thirteen. First they called it aggressive behavior. Last time they said bipolar depression. They make sh*t up worse than we do.”

That line by the young character in Marianne’s story made me laugh and rang beautifully true of the frustration those dealing with mental health issues must feel. This novel, more than anything else, shows the real struggle such patients and their loved ones face. Echoes of Family goes further in tying two tragic events together that serve to set off manic episodes in Marianne Stokes. Having left England to start over and heal in America, she now runs a recording studio in North Carolina with Husband Darius and a girl she took under her wing who is just as much a daughter as one can be. But it all falls apart when she is the cause of another tragedy and ends up back on the other side of the pond, a mess at the feet of the last person who expected her to return. She was the catalyst for the wreckage of his family, Gabriel is now a Vicar but there is more than burned bridges behind them. Where once there was love, choices and mistakes made as an unstable teen cost them all so much, and clung to their futures.

There is hopelessness, exhaustion and I think a lot of being sick of herself. Luckily she is loved, and even if they don’t always get it right, at least they aren’t giving up. But even with those who want to save you  it isn’t a simple solution. Diagnosis is one thing, medications another, but there is no perfect fix. There are times when something can set a person off, and as they fall through the downward spiral the hope can be hard to find.

When her husband and Jade follow her to England, everyone questions there place in her heart. Darius feels threatened by Gabriel, Vicar or not! Everyone is unsure why she is in England and if it’s right or not. But she cannot remain in this manic state.
When Marianne, a mess herself, wants to save another damaged girl that reminds her so much of her young self. What worked for me, is that the relationships didn’t go where you would expect anytime there is a reunion of past loves. Salvation isn’t easy in coming either, true to life! As she comes undone, it almost seems necessary to get her to a place where she can finally let go of her shame and guilt. There are truths she must confront, things Gabriel doesn’t know. Just what did happen with Marianne and his brother, and maybe Gabriel has some blackness of guilt he’s been carrying in his godly soul too.
Instead of a stereotype of a disordered mind (however the medical establishment chooses to label it at any given time) Marianne is a believable woman who shows us how it feels to live with the chaos and how everyday is a brave step in getting on with things.
Lovely and sad.

For anyone that enjoys women’s fiction, mental health issues, and just a wonderful solid story

Lake Union Publishing

Publication Date September 27, 2016

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