Elephant in the Sky

Elephant in the Sky

Book - 2014
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Elephant in the Sky is told from both nine-year-old Nate's point of view and that of his mother, Ashley, an overworked ad executive who struggles with a demanding workload and the worry that she's not spending enough time with her family - especially as her son's battle with mental unbalance and paranoid delusions escalates. The two narratives converge in a deeply moving tale of a family dealing with mental illness.
Publisher: Toronto : ECW Press, 2014.
ISBN: 9781770410831
Characteristics: 328 p. ; 22 cm.

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KateHillier Oct 06, 2014

There are aspects of this book that I really liked - notably Nate's point of view - and others that I didn't.

The story overall is an important one. The more stories out there like this the better but that doesn't make this one perfect. The story seemed almost a parable. I found the parents to have had their roles and reactions assigned to them rather than being actual, holistic, parts of their character. There's also an almost infuriating emphasis on the maternal instinct - mother Ashley knows right away something is wrong while her stay at home husband Pete is in denial (denial brought on while trying to convince Ashley that there's nothing wrong which I just find suspect considering what plot points are revealed later. I sympathize with any parent having to tackle mental illness with a child so young but, as I said, I just couldn't connect with the parents - mostly the mother, the father didn't have much of a presence aside from Nate and Ashley's impressions of him. It would have been interesting to have his perspective as well; especially considering that his relationship with Nate I think was sacrificed for the narrative of a mother knowing best.

I did like Nate's chapters a lot, both the brevity and the content, and I found that quite realistic. I also enjoyed the parts in the hospital and after as they struggle to find a treatment that works for Nate.

Despite my criticisms I do believe that we need more of these stories and I'm glad that this books exists if only for that. I just wish it was a little better executed.

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21221018293347
Sep 30, 2014

The story flips back and forth between the son's and mother's points of view following the boy's slow descent into mental illness. It is well written, presenting the blunt facts of the son's behavior changes and delusions, coupled with the mother's overwhelming concern and guilt. Very interesting perspective without being dragged through the mud. This is not a sob story, rather a story of what is happening.

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