A fever dream of darkly personal memories and musings from the shadowy corners of sexual violence and mental illness.

A candid, autobiographical scrapbook from a young woman navigating manic depression.

In her forthright debut, Washuta intimately chronicles her ongoing struggle with the triple threat of a 2005 sexual assault, bipolar disorder, and the powerful antipsychotic medication prescribed to balance her mind and body (“chemical torture is the trade-off”). In each creatively imagined chapter, the author delivers explicit insight into her life: a bibliography of influential books; reflections on her college years at the University of Maryland, where she conducted sexual habit studies and imbibed vodka-laced “liquid dinners”; the conundrum of obtaining a sexual education while in Catholic school; her hilariously footnoted online dating profile; and a harrowing medicine-cabinet glossary of her prescription “bipolar buffet.” Washuta then graphically describes her sexual escapades in Seattle, where she was able to “absorb every one-night stand into my body and keep it there.” Other sections find the author personally identifying with TV’s Law & Order, Kurt Cobain and Britney Spears. In alternating chapters, she discusses the internal and external impacts of her Indian heritage as a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe (“It took some time to get the hang of being simultaneously white and Indian”) and how being raped altered her sense of identity and exacerbated her bouts of bipolar disorder ("Before I knew I was bipolar, and could settle into that, I had the rape. It was bloody and violent and it was an injustice of the kind my ancestors knew"). In a reliably honest, original and frank fashion, Washuta’s ruminations lift the veil of her chronic (and highly medicated) bouts of mental illness to reveal the confused, frenetic and often traumatic reality of living with overwhelming bouts of depression and mania.

A fever dream of darkly personal memories and musings from the shadowy corners of sexual violence and mental illness.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59709-969-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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