I really do not read alot of fiction work anymore. Especially books with a non-faith aspect. When I contemplated starting this book, I wondered if it would be a good fit for me. All in all it was a worthwhile read. More so from the perspective of understanding generational impact of mental illness on individuals and their families.
When John is hospitalized for “depression” in 1960s London, his fiance Margaret stays by his side. They eventually marry and have three children, Michael, Celia, and Alec. The reader is given a glimpse into the effects of mental illness on other family members including those dealing with it themselves. The bulk of Haslett’s novel follows the family’s efforts to care for one another amidst these challenges. The book seems to get started slowly but if you stick with it, after some time the reader is along for the ride.
The novel, is told in alternating points of view. The story begins with a scene where the reader understands “something has happened” but isn’t really given much more context. Shortly after this the story moves into a back-story that unfolds and moves the story forward to end near where it began. It is centered on the oldest son and progresses forward in time as each character tells their part of the story.
Michael is one of the funniest characters you’ll encounter. Through him, Haslett reveals both an encyclopedic knowledge of music (particularly disco, funk, and hip hop) and the ways in which both communal and individual experiences of trauma shape pop culture creations.
Haslett’s writing is part comedy, part drama, but very well done. It’s moments of heart-break are alleviated by witty humor. His observations of family dynamics and dysfunction are as keen as any. One of Haslett’s main themes, the reality that we can never truly know another person because we can never truly see another person, is both a challenging accusation and an inspiration to see and love better. We all have a tendency to view others through ourselves, but rarely as they truly are, which causes us to think we know each other far better than we actually do.
Imagine Me Gone (Little, Brown and Company, 368 pp.) Is a book I would recommend to others; though be mindful it is not a faith-based title and has some language as well as other descriptive scenes.