WHY DID SHE JUMP? by Joan E. Childs


An Angel to Remember
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The tragic story of how the fumbling hand of our healthcare system contributed to the suicide of the author’s 34-year-old daughter Pam.

Pam, a psychologist and clinical social worker, isn’t granted an adequate stay in the proper facility to treat her bipolar I disorder–it wasn’t covered by her HMO–a deeply disturbing fact considering her credentials. But when Pam’s well-connected physician father and clinical social worker mother, who both advocated for her and were willing to spend out-of-pocket money, couldn’t obtain help for her either, it becomes a nightmare. In this book, Childs not only attempts to expose discrepancies within the healthcare system, she’s also exorcising her grief while introducing readers to her daughter’s tragic story. The author is trying to impart that Pam wasn’t just a person with an illness, but someone who graced everyone’s lives, including those of her patients. To make her point, Childs writes of Pam’s physical beauty, but unfortunately uses generic statements, such as “Hair of gold,” “Eyes of green like the sea” and “a vision of loveliness.” She also writes that her daughter’s “words were as exquisite as her presence,” but readers rarely hear Pam’s voice in the text. Descriptions of Pam often get bogged down in generalities, leaving the reader begging for more specifics. For example, instead of staying with the powerful emotions she must have felt at Pam’s funeral, Childs delves into her own prior losses, such as her father’s death and her friend Chava’s death from cancer. She then writes about the cabin she renovated with her fourth husband, an event that was followed by his sudden death. After these distractions, Childs returns to Pam’s funeral. The subsequent eulogies are merely summaries. “She [Pam’s sister] shared her pride and fondest of memories.” What are those memories? The anecdotes are called both “funny” and “sad,” yet no further details abound. Had Childs shared more, readers might have been able to mourn Pam too. The author’s effort, though deeply heartfelt, to make Pam into an angel doesn’t allow her to emerge as a person for an outside audience.

An important story that needs more specific details to achieve its intended impact.

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 2006
ISBN: 978-1-4196-2125-3
Program: Kirkus Indie
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