Hidden Valley Road

I recently read the non-fiction book "Hidden Valley Road" by Robert Kolker. This is an intriguing book, and a very sad one. It is the true story of an American family with twelve children, half of them ultimately diagnosed with schizophrenia.

At first, it seems as if Don and Mimi Galvin are truly living the American dream. After WWII, Don's career with the Air Force brought them to Colorado. There, they raised twelve children born between 1945 and 1965. What happened in that home, as one by one, six of the sons became seriously mentally ill, was horrifying. All members of the family experienced a home life that included psychological breakdowns, disturbing violence, parental neglect, and physical and sexual abuse. This family's life spun out of control.

Eventually, people in the medical world became aware that here was an opportunity to study in microcosm, a little understood mental health issue, schizophrenia. The Galvin family became one of the first of the large families studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Doctors looked at the old "nature versus nurture" question, in an effort to better comprehend the symptoms and pathologies of this illness and explore ways to treat or manage it.

From Goodreads: "Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations."

"Author Robert Kolker uncovers the Galvin family's unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope."

This book will break your heart. You will feel compassion for the parents, never suspecting what awaited their family and absolutely unprepared for the suffering to come, and for all the children, those suffering from the effects of illness, and those left to suffer from the effects of a large family barely coping with the serious illness of so many members.

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Me & Patsy Kickin' Up Dust

Me and Patsy Kickin' Up Dust by Loretta Lynn and Patsy Lynn Russell, foreword by Dolly Parton Weary from what I've been seeing on the news each evening, I recently found myself looking for something light to read; something with charm and possible inspiration. I'm happy to say that I found just that in Loretta Lynn and her recently released book "Me and Patsy Kickin' Up Dust". As a fan of Patsy Cline's...

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Mirrors and Windows: Diversity in Children's and YA Books

This is part one in a multi-part series on diversity in children and young adult books. As protests continue across the country and activists work hard for justice and equality, it is more important than ever that we take initiative to learn about and seek out diverse perspectives to better understand the world around us. Sometimes, explaining the way the world works to our children, however, can seem very daunting....

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