Saturday, March 18, 2017
Piece of Mind, Michelle Adelman
Sometimes it is all about the voice. In Piece of Mind by Michelle Adelman (W.W. Norton, 2016) we are charmed by the clear, unique voice of Lucy, a young woman who has grown up with a traumatic brain injury. Because of her disabilities, she lives with her aging father, both of them finding comfort in the daily routines they share. When Lucy's father dies suddenly, her younger brother moves her from their quiet, suburban childhood home to his tiny apartment in bustling New York City. In these new surroundings, and unmoored from her father's protection and support, Lucy finds her way to greater independence, and forges a new, more equal relationship with her sibling.
The novel immerses us in Lucy's world. Because her disabilities are not necessarily visible to others, we must understand the tiny obstacles of her daily life - confusing interactions, decision making, forgetfulness, easily becoming overwhelmed, fatigue. In some hands, these details could be heavy, or the tone didactic, but Adelman takes us there lovingly with Lucy's appealing personality, sensitivity and humor. We gain insight into a life we might easily overlook otherwise, and learn to appreciate Lucy for both her gifts and her flaws.
The plot, too, is charming. Lucy finds friends, romance, and purpose, especially through her art. The book includes lovely sketches by the author's own sister, who also has a brain injury. They are lovely discoveries as you read and give the book a very personal feel. While the story may feel a bit familiar, the point of view was engaging and refreshing. I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse of the world through Lucy's eyes.
I received a complimentary copy of Piece of Mind from the publisher.