On the cover, it states that GHELLOW ROAD is 'a literary diary of a young girl's journey'. That young girl is Theresa Waters, the author. Theresa is the second of two children, born in 1965 to doting parents. The story begins when Theresa is a young girl and continues until she goes to college. There are a few years in the beginning that the Waters family seemed like any other: happy, loving, content. But soon things began to change and as hard as Theresa's outgoing father tried to camouflager what was really happening within their family, he could only cover up so much. Theresa's mother's behavior became more and more disturbing and even as young as she was, Theresa soon realized there was definitely something wrong. Rainy's bouts of despondency and paranoia became more regular and began to affect both children and the marriage. Eventually, a tragic event changes their lives forever and for the first time, Theresa is forced to navigate through the demons of her mother and try to piece together the most normal family life she can. She finds refuge in the friends she makes at school and when she reaches her teenage years, she spends more and more time away from home, enjoying the normalcy of her friend's lives. Life on Ghellow Road was anything but normal and this book takes a heartbreaking and poignant look in to the world of mental instability and a very brave and resilient young girl who has to fight every day to find happiness and peace, the things she wants the most.
When I was contacted about reading this book, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew that coming from the point of view of a child, it would probably be a very honest and raw interpretation of a very difficult time. What I found was so sad that I would often think of her even when I wasn't reading. Having had a wonderful childhood with two amazing parents, I couldn't imagine what her life must have been like. I'm only a year older than Theresa and while reading her story, I couldn't help but compare my life to hers. It made me even more grateful (and even a little guilty) for the years that I was allowed to be a kid and not have to worry about anything because I had the security and knowledge that my parents would take care of me. Theresa had that taken away from her and that in and of itself is heartbreaking.
The book is written somewhat like a diary, having no chapters, just breaks in the story. It moves along quickly, highlighting important times and events in her family's life.
What struck me as I kept reading was the repeated resilience of Theresa, especially in her adolescent years. Those years are difficult under the best of circumstances and for Theresa they were made even worse by her mother's odd, unstable behavior and complete lack of responsibility towards her children during her periods of absence. Theresa basically raised herself and even held down part-time jobs during summer vacations. She never gave up - just trudged on. That is impressive. It angered me that during the times when her demons were under control, Rainy put her own life first and Theresa and her brother were left to fend for themselves. I'm not even a parent and I had a hard time with that.
One of the saddest things is the divide that developed between Theresa and her brother. During a time when they should have leaned on each other, Rainy simply shipped him off and seemingly showed little emotion or concern for him again. The result of that action would come back later and rock Theresa to the core.
As I mentioned, the book ends when Theresa is eighteen and heading to college. It is amazing to me that she even made it that far without more serious damage. I think having grown up in the 70's played a big part in Theresa's ability to bounce back and take control of the next phase of her life. I don't mean to say that it made it any easier, but given everything that is out in the world today, I think there would be much more dangerous consequences. I would love to know more about Theresa's life now that she is an adult and find out if her family has healed somewhat from the pains of past.
This is an interesting and insightful book and I am very grateful to Ms. Waters for contacting me to read it and highlight it on my blog. Reading stories such as Theresa's should make the rest of the world see just how important it is to understand mental illness and the effect it has on their families. This book certainly has made me appreciate my family. I would encourage you to read GHELLOW ROAD. Even though it is a tough read, it is impressive and I promise it will linger in your mind long after you've read the last page.
Author: T.H. Waters
Publisher: Verefor Publishing Company LLC
Published: October 2010
Source: T.H. Waters