A warm and comprehensive guide for mentally ill spouses and their loved ones.



A psychological and spiritual look at how one can best support a mentally ill partner while also taking care of oneself.

In these pages, consultant R. Christian Bohlen earnestly recounts his own experiences with mental illness as well as those of his wife, Helen M. Bohlen. Both live with bipolar disorder and worked together to save their relationship. Each chapter includes a section of explanation from R. Christian Bohlen on a particular issue—such as “My Needs Are Not Being Met” or “My Heart Breaks for My Spouse”—followed by a section from his wife’s perspective on the same subject, and how they’ve addressed the issue over time; it also features a section of guidelines and advice regarding the problem at hand. Some of the specific concerns in each segment include finding ways to regulate one’s emotions by using various techniques, including dialectical behavior therapy; dealing with perceptions of unfairness in a relationship, which the authors illustrate by using an example from the story of David in the Old Testament; comparing one’s needs and wants with one’s partner’s (and noting that “Tenderness is so important. Reconsider the importance of being nice”); recognizing codependency and the importance of setting and respecting boundaries; and doing exercises that aim to increase one’s mindfulness (“Such practices will fully bring you back to what is real and present. This is an essential skill for anyone experiencing stress”). In a later section of the book, they recommend a general relationship model that they call “GREAT”—an acronym that stands for “being genuine, respectful, empathetic, accepting, and trusting.”

One of the most illuminating sections of the book includes a comparison chart that shows the differences between productive and nonproductive thoughts. One harmful or nonproductive thought, for example, may be that one’s spouse is not sufficiently engaging in certain positive behaviors, which can be frustrating; the productive counterpart to this thought is that one can engage in those behaviors oneself, and invite one’s spouse to participate in them. These sorts of highlights could have an incredibly positive effect on one’s communication skills and overall sense of marital satisfaction. The book has a distinctly Christian aspect, offering a great many biblical references and often noting that one may rely on God for spiritual help during tumultuous times. For the most part, though, the suggestions themselves are secular in nature and could be applied by any married person, regardless of their religious affiliation. The authors’ intimate knowledge of the subject matter, combined with the hopeful tone, results in a relationship guide that’s both practical and kind. Its frequent focus on the issues that face the partner of an ill person offers readers refreshing takes on how such illness can affect family members. Overall, this is a moving work that does not shy away from noting how heavy a burden living with mental illness can be, while also offering a number of ways to potentially ease that burden.

A warm and comprehensive guide for mentally ill spouses and their loved ones.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949572-77-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Carpenter's Son Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A tender, well-rendered, heart-wrenching account of the way food ties us to those who have passed.

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A poignant memoir about a mother’s love as told through Korean food.

Losing a parent is one thing, but to also lose direct ties to one’s culture in the process is its own tragedy. In this expansion of her popular 2018 New Yorker essay, Zauner, best known as the founder of indie rock group Japanese Breakfast, grapples with what it means to be severed from her Korean heritage following her mother’s battle with cancer. In an attempt to honor and remember her umma, the author sought to replicate the flavors of her upbringing. Throughout, the author delivers mouthwatering descriptions of dishes like pajeon, jatjuk, and gimbap, and her storytelling is fluid, honest, and intimate. Aptly, Zauner frames her story amid the aisles of H Mart, a place many Asian Americans will recognize, a setting that allows the author to situate her personal story as part of a broader conversation about diasporic culture, a powerful force that eludes ownership. The memoir will feel familiar to children of immigrants, whose complicated relationships to family are often paralleled by equally strenuous relationships with their food. It will also resonate with a larger audience due to the author’s validation of the different ways that parents can show their love—if not verbally, then certainly through their ability to nourish. “I wanted to embody a physical warning—that if she began to disappear, I would disappear too,” writes Zauner as she discusses the deterioration of her mother’s health, when both stopped eating. When a loved one dies, we search all of our senses for signs of their presence. Zauner’s ability to let us in through taste makes her book stand out from others with similar themes. She makes us feel like we are in her mother’s kitchen, singing her praises.

A tender, well-rendered, heart-wrenching account of the way food ties us to those who have passed.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65774-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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