I remember hearing the term, “Schizophrenia” as a high school student but didn’t understand what it meant. A few years later, as a freshmen in college, I’d sit in a Psychology 101 college class reading about mental illnesses and watching videos of the person afflicted with the illness, as well as their families. I silently prayed that wouldn’t be me or anyone I knew. It seemed like torture.
Twenty years ago, no one really wanted to talk about mental illness. The diagnosed, if they were diagnosed, received drug cocktails and families were lonely. There was no one waving a banner to talk about mental illness in public or otherwise. It was quiet, except for those who were left to deal with the loss, the medications, the relapses and the questions.
It is here in the novel by Mira T. Lee, Everything Here Is Beautiful, we find the fictional story of two sisters dealing with mental illness. Having immigrated to America from China with their newly widowed mother, Lucia, the younger sister, vibrant and adventurous, begins to hear voices, and later recalls the “First time it happened. ‘It,’ the zing.” (168)
Keep reading over on Englewood Review of Books here