9 HIGHLAND ROAD by Michael Winerip


Sane Living for the Mentally Ill
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 An empathetic portrait of a group home for the mentally ill, by a New York Times reporter who spent two years observing day- to-day life there. Winerip first covered the story of the home on Highland Road in 1987 and 1988, when the town of Glen Cove, Long Island, was fighting to prevent its establishment. The initial chapters recount that battle. Winerip returned to the story in 1991, when the home was in its third year of operation and even close neighbors were oblivious to its presence. Largely through their own words, Winerip shows residents coping with their illnesses and the side effects of their medications, and live-in counselors coping with the residents and with the bureaucracies that govern their existence. There's Julie, whose multiple personalities come under control enough for her to leave the home and get a good job; Heather, whose suicidal feelings keep her shuttling between the group home and Glen Cove Hospital; Jasper, a schizophrenic with an eating disorder, who balloons up to nearly 400 pounds and eventually requires a more restrictive environment; Anthony, also schizophrenic, whose father takes him out every week but whose mother won't speak to him; and Stan, another schizophrenic, who leaves the group home but fails to make it on his own. When he leaps from a window after hearing the voices of God and Christ fighting in his new apartment, doctors are able to repair his terribly broken body but cannot heal his tortured mind. Winerip makes a convincing argument that group homes with live-in counselors make sense as a humane alternative to the cruelties of institutionalization and homelessness. Although not likely to increase the number of applicants for the post of resident supervisor, this report will surely open many eyes to the realities of life for the mentally ill. A revealing, often disturbing account that somehow manages to be both compassionate and dispassionate.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-40724-3
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994


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