Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
JOINT REVIEW~HIDDEN VALLEY ROAD
I love finding a book that I haven’t heard about. This one, Hidden Valley Road, popped up on Amazon as one that I might like. When I checked out Good Reads, I was astonished. It has so many incredible reviews, thousands & thousands of them.
Part investigative journalism, part family saga, part medical exposé, this is non-fiction that reads like a film & the story at its centre is at times, unfathomable, centred on the Galvin family from Colorado & their twelve children, six of whom are diagnosed with schizophrenia. The family look like they are living the American Dream but their reality is a million miles away from it.
Kolker is a great writer & boy, does he have a story. I think he tells it brilliantly, particularly in terms of the structure as he divides each chapter per family member. Not for the faint hearted, it has so much to teach about mental illness and the treatment of it. I found it compelling, mind-boggling, and, at points, hugely moving ~ S
Honestly, this book is nothing short of a masterpiece. Published in 2020 and an international bestseller, I would never have thought to pick this up and I was completely transfixed. Endorsed by the likes of Obama & Oprah, I genuinely had to remind myself every few pages that this was non-fiction.
A visceral blend of genres, the short chapters, propulsive pace and intimate style of writing make this hugely readable. Kolker gives you the emotions of the people & just enough of the research & history into schizophrenia & mental health to keep you informed but not weighed down by data.
This touches on everything. Gender divisions (the blame apportioned to the mother of the mentally ill historically), trauma, abuse, stigma, the development of medical research & practice, nature vs nurture, religion & the military, hugely dysfunctional family dynamics & pop culture amongst many other themes with an ending of hope. It will appeal to a broad range of readers so make sure to check this one out, I will be thinking about it for a very long time ~ C
Order your copy here.