A young man struggles to overcome bipolar disorder in this debut memoir.
English author Spriggs recounts his experiences being bullied in secondary school, his studies at college and travels abroad, a series of failed job ventures, and his eventual creation of his own career path. At various points, he struggled with grades, work commitments, his weight, and being a closeted gay man in the mid-2000s. He took a demanding job as a buffet waiter in Paris, which was all the more challenging due to his limited knowledge of French, natural shyness, and downright dangerous living situation, as youths robbed and threatened him and other residents of his apartment building. Encouraged by friends and supported by sympathetic employers, he persevered through college only to become paranoid and combative, and he spent some time in a mental hospital. After he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Spriggs spent the next decade trying to find the right medications, struggling with side effects such as weight gain and suicidal thoughts. Due to his illness and his sensitive nature, his teaching job fell though, as did positions in business administration and social work. Spriggs ultimately opted for self-employment with a “health promotion” company, and he eventually returned to teaching foreign languages part time in primary schools. Early on, Spriggs’ account of living in Paris is engaging, and the highlight of the book. However, there are no paragraph breaks in the text until page 13, and this resulting wall of text may discourage some readers from continuing on, which is unfortunate. It might have improved the book, though, if the author had summarized instead of listing all the jobs he left and all the sick days he took. The memoir also might also have benefited from dramatizing key scenes, instead of merely recounting a litany of successes and setbacks. Also, it ends with a reference to its title (“You see there are two shadows of success. So what’s stopping you?!”), but this is never developed further or fully explained.
A sometimes-appealing memoir, but one that likely won’t sustain readers’ interest.