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Madness: A Bipolar Life

In her trademark wry and self-revealing voice, the bestselling author of "Wasted" tells her story of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and takes readers inside her own desperate attempts to control her violently careening mood swings.
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In Hornbacher's first book, Wasted, she described the agony of life with eating disorders. What she did not know then was why she so abused her body. That answer came at age 24, when she was diagnosed with an extreme form of bipolar disorder. This memoir recounts episodes of that disease, and it is heartbreaking. Readers sense Hornbacher's struggle to rein in the paragraphs, sentences, words that sprawl across the page; many sections have little punctuation and lead nowhere. Alternately, the scenes over which Hornbacher exerts some control seem to come from a place of thoughtful repose and are both disturbing and deeply moving, giving true insight into what it's like to live with this most stubbornly intransigent of mental disorders. That the book was finished at all is a great tribute to Hornbacher's resilience. Followers of Wasted and other literary recovery memoirs will clamor for this. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]-Elizabeth Brinkley, Granite Falls, WA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Hornbacher, who detailed her struggle with bulimia and anorexia in Wasted, now shares the story of her lifelong battle with mental illness, finally diagnosed as rapid cycling type 1 bipolar disorder. Even as a toddler, Hornbacher couldn't sleep at night and jabbered endlessly, trying to talk her parents into going outside to play in the dark. Other schoolchildren called her crazy. When she was just 10, she discovered alcohol was a good "mood stabilizer"; by age 14, she was trading sex for pills. In her late teens, her eating disorder landed her in the hospital, followed by another body obsession, cutting. An alcoholic by this point, she was alternating between mania and depression, with frequent hospitalizations. Her doctor explained that not only did the alcohol block her medications, it was up to her to control her mental illness, which would always be with her. This truth didn't sink in for a long, long time, but when it did, she had a chance for a life outside her local hospital's psychiatric unit. Hornbacher ends on a cautiously optimistic note-she knows she'll never lead a "normal life," but maybe she could live with the life she does have. Although painfully self-absorbed, Hornbacher will touch a nerve with readers struggling to cope with mental illness. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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