In this short debut memoir of his first 30 years, Black candidly recounts his turbulent experiences as a young man learning to live with bipolar disorder.
As a child, the author lived in a perpetual state of transience. He painfully recalls being passed off by his drug-addicted mother to live with his caring but sometimes incompetent grandparents. School brought further trauma, as teachers, unable to deal with his particular temperaments, passed him off to the special needs class, despite his intellectual capacity. His outbursts would result in psychiatric hospitalizations, which he alternatively regarded as punishments or welcome vacations. Black shows great insight in explaining how his difficult experiences at home and school contributed to his trouble behaving in a socially appropriate manner. In other areas, however, this memoir is less sharp. The descriptions of women come from a distinctly male perspective, as they go into great detail about the physical attributes of everyone from young coeds to the author’s psychiatrist, about whom he writes, “Her jeans tugged tightly around her healthy legs, and a loosely buttoned shirt exposed perky brown cleavage.” Readers should also beware that these candid youthful recollections feature a brief incestuous relationship with a cousin, and some time the author spent sporting “Confederate shirts.” Black also writes about a torrid relationship that ended in domestic violence charges against him. At times, the narrative reads a bit like a school essay, with sentence openers such as “Needless to say…” However, as he’s a self-described “millennial,” Black’s story still has a way to go. His burgeoning introspection shows again in the final pages, and he offers valuable insights and very tangible advice to others living with bipolar disorder.
Black shows promising analytical skills for a young writer, but his book would have benefited from more emotionally revealing moments, and fewer objectifying descriptions of women.