Sunday, August 14, 2011

Breaking Spirit Bridge by Ruth Perkinson

Publisher:                 Spinsters Ink

Breaking Spirit Bridge returns to the two main characters from Perkinson's earlier book, Piper's Someday. After living in Canada for several years with her guardians, Piper and her three-legged dog Someday return to Virginia so that Piper can attend college on a basketball scholarship. Charlottesville provides an exciting environment for Piper, but not one that can protect her from the trauma of her early years in Richmond. Though she tries to focus on her team, new friends and lover, Piper is haunted by old demons. The memories of her families' deaths and the abuse she suffered afterward are resurrected when Piper is called to Richmond to confront her dying grandfather. Piper begins to experience episodes of losing touch with reality and hearing voices and sounds and there is only Someday, the only solid link to her past and her protector, to keep her grounded. Tragedy beyond Piper's comprehension finally drives her into a mental hospital and she will fight to regain not only her sanity, but her ability to view the future with hope.

This is not an easy book to read in the sense that Piper takes the reader on a difficult journey. Bipolarism is an illness that subjects people to extreme highs and lows and trying to live inside their heads is extremely confusing. It is difficult for them to separate reality from fantasy and trying to follow the train of thought requires the reader to focus more intently than many novels. 

Anyone who is familiar with these characters from the previous book also may find it difficult to cope with what is happening to Piper. At times her disintegration into the illness is at best uncomfortable to watch and many times distressing. The reader wants so much for this young woman to finally have a happy life that to have her suffer so badly can be painful. 

This can't have been an easy book for Perkinson to write either. To be able to express these emotions and the depths of this illness in a way that draws the reader in requires knowledge of what bipolarism does beyond what simple research can accomplish. At times the reader will get an almost uncomfortable feeling that she is being given an insight to the author that is almost too personal.

Breaking Spirit Bridge is well written by Perkinson and presented by Spinsters Ink. This isn't a light romance or an engrossing mystery, but it is a powerful character study. It's an intelligent book that requires the reader to contemplate the impact of mental illness on people and those who care about them. If you're looking for easy entertainment, this isn't it, but, if you're looking for something that is enlightening and a good story, you want to try this book.

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