Lori Schiller & Amanda Bennett,
The Quiet Room:
A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness

(Grand Central, 1996)

In this riveting memoir, Lori Schiller recounts in detail her spiraling descent into mental illness, which began in adolescence, when she first heard the voices that she would fight for the rest of her life. Her heartbreaking narrative about this debilitating disease, schizophrenia, gives us all a compassion for these victims that we may not have had before. Her poignant tale reminds all of us who have our mental health intact just how lucky we really are.

The subject is explored from many angles. Her roommate helplessly stands by, knowing something is wrong but not knowing what to do. Her distraught parents are tortured by the worry that they may have caused this. Her distressed brother worries the disease may strike him next. The story is told through chapters in the first person written by all those touched by Lori's illness, including hospital notes and a long chapter by Dr. Dollar, one of the two doctors who finally broke through to Lori with extensive therapy and the help of a new experimental medication.

Her courageous battle gives hope to all of us, those who have a battle of their own to wage, as well as those in the life of someone who does. I cried when Doctor Fischer left, and I cried when Lori finally put the hospitals behind her to start a new life on her own, a successful life filled with the love of family and friends.

"At last, my life is my own."

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

12 March 2011

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