Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: Letters to Daniel by Amy McCorkle

Letters to DanielLetters to Daniel by Tim Druck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Letters to Daniel is a raw and real collection of journal entries from an author who's battled bipolar disorder and has still managed to find her way through the dark jungle of the publishing industry. Written "to" one of the author's favorite actors, Daniel Craig, Letters portrays the highs and lows of a woman dealing with mental illness while trying to succeed in a highly competitive market.

What makes this particular memoir different is that each of the "letters" originated as a blog post on a blog of the same title. I've followed the blog and have known this author for a few years now. She's an open book and very authentic when it comes to her life experiences and this shows in her entries.

I think one has to approach this particular collection differently than an actual "memoir" or autobiography. The entries are taken as is from the blog. They're fresh from the author's thoughts on that particular day. There are typos here and there, as one would expect in a personal journal entry. As I read it, the only thing I found lacking was the actual date of each entry to give us a firmer foundation of time passed.

What can be taken from it is not some grand revelation in its conclusion, but the daily struggle to overcome the obstacles set by mental illness and a tortured past. We see her victories and her failures: awards won for her hard work, countered by family conflicts and an eating disorder; the need to create, while struggling to find the money to buy the medication to keep her steady. It's raw and real, and I think it accurately portrays the life of THIS person's battle.

Others dealing with mental illness while trying to succeed in any sort of career may be able to relate to Miss McCorkle's struggles, even if their own experience is quite different. If anything, this collection may inspire others to reflect on their journey and inspire them to go after their dreams, even when social stigmas tell them they can't.

I'd recommend Letters to Daniel for adults (mentions of sexual abuse and profanity are used throughout) who want to understand what it's like to battle bipolar disorder from one person's perspective.

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