by Jerold Daniels
Genre: General Fiction / Psychological
Print Length: 256 pages
Reviewed by Lisa Parker Hayreh, PhD | Content Warnings: mental illness, sexual and physical abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideations
The powerful account of a young woman’s descent into untreated mental illness
This biographical novel by Jerold Daniels details his daughter’s experiences with mental illness, using her personal journals as primary source material. Emo Reality follows Lina as a young woman living with increasing symptoms of mental illness, even though she doesn’t know it yet. As she progresses through her teen years, chaos and torment follow her and her family of father, mother, and sister.
Readers careen through the highs and lows of Lina’s mental illness. Her passions and rages are repeatedly intense, ever-changing, and debilitating for her and her family. She fails to gain professional intervention for her symptoms during her childhood and teen years, leaving her and her family vulnerable to the vicissitudes of her mental illness.
Her strong emotions color her perspective and her interactions at every turn. “My childhood memory began to be distorted and even creative when I reached my teens, as if it was determined to find reasons to blame others, especially my dad, for anything imperfect in my life.”
Lina struggles to cope and frequently engages in hateful behaviors with others, self-harm, and even suicidal ideation at times. The challenges of growing up overwhelm her due to her pervasive emotional dysregulation. We bear witness to the devastation that she and her family suffer connected to her untreated symptoms. Her story ultimately serves as a testament to the power of self-awareness, healing, and love.
Vivid and unapologetically blunt, this book offers an immersive experience of mental illness. We ride the waves of Lina’s super-charged emotions and mood shifts. It’s a stunning portrayal of severe borderline personality disorder. Jerold Daniels also sounds a powerful call for effective psychiatric treatment and mental health intervention.
Lina’s sister struggles with a less severe form of borderline personality disorder, and she provides an intriguing counterpoint to Lina’s perspective throughout the book. The relationship between Lina’s erratic, unstable mother and her scholarly yet frequently absent father offers additional insight into Lina’s upbringing. Periodic glimpses of wisdom emerge in Lina’s understanding of her experiences, especially as the novel progresses.
Occasionally brutal to read, it contains hateful and graphic language, details about sexual and physical abuse, vivid descriptions of self-harm, and graphic details about suicidal behavior.
Emo Reality is a candid portrayal of untreated mental illness and a poignant story of survival and transformation. It’s an impactful read for anyone, but especially those looking to validate the struggles of mental illness and borderline personality disorder.
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