Mental illness is a difficult subject to discuss--and, even more difficult to write about in a personal memoir for the world to read. William P. Dunn, IV, does just that as he tells his family's story. What did I think of Walking with the Light?
I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in this review. All opinions are my own.
Quick Summary of Sandy's Gift: Walking with the Light by William P. Dunn IV. More than 15 million adults and their immediate families in America today must cope with a patient suffering from severe mental illness. In too many cases, these families cannot or do not know how to get help for their loved ones.
SANDY’S GIFT: WALKING WITH THE LIGHT (Cedar Forge, 2017, softcover) by William P. Dunn IV is an intimate and shocking true story that tells of the tragic plight of Sandra Dunn, a mother and loving wife whose life takes a tragic turn when she suddenly falls victim to severe mental illness; how the healthcare profession and the law prevented her from getting the treatment she needed; how it destroyed her family and nearly got them killed. By sharing his story, Dunn hopes that people will have a better understanding of the ravages of mental illness and know how to cope with them better.
Reviewing a Memoir is a Little Difficult. A memoir isn't a work of fiction with neatly concluded plots or well rounded characters to love or hate. Memoirs are personal. Memoirs are real. Memoirs are often written in a somewhat inconsistent manner--jumping from memories to memories or grouping events without regard to forming a "flow" for the reader. The author jumps around a bit through the early stages of the book as he takes readers through the early years of his relationship with his wife and their family's ups and downs with "day to day" living. He illustrates his average, usual family with school and work activities, family vacations, holidays, home repairs, etc. Then, he settles into a more chronological storytelling style as his wife's illness began to affect those "average family activities". Dunn's writing style is a little dry--though well formed--without a lot of emotion until moments of frustration and anger--and some peace--surfaced later in the book.
The author needed to tell Sandy's story. So often, when someone suffers from a mental illness--outsiders cast quick blame toward the family for missing the signs or for "not doing anything" to help the sufferer. Sandy's story didn't occur in some rural, isolated area. It didn't occur decades ago. It happened recently--and in an area with modern health facilities and mental health programs. The author was put into a helpless position by a horribly, flawed system as he sought help for his family. And he is not alone. This memoir shines a light onto Sandy's story with the hope that increased awareness and realistic dialogue may prevent another family from suffering the pain of Sandy and her family.
Would I recommend Sandy's Gift? Sandy's story should not have unfolded as it did. This memoir tells a frustratingly sad story. If you enjoy memoirs--and have an interest in the mental health "system"--and in mental health awareness--I would recommend this book.
Meet the Author.
William P. Dunn IV worked on Wall Street in the U.S. Government bond market where he worked his way up from the back office to the trading desks. After twenty years on Wall Street, he became a financial advisor in northern New Jersey. He continues to work as an investment advisor. He is a graduate of Thiel College where he earned a dual degree in Economics and Business Administration. Today he lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and is a proud grandfather.