Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Isolation Door by Anish Majumdar

I asked and received this book through NetGalley for free. This review is not sponsored nor influenced in anyway. Thanks to Lake Union Publishing for the book. The expected publishing date is November 25.

First impression

The first novel of this author, inspired by her owns experience with a mother with schizophrenia, the book’s description really felt like what I was looking for; something different, a drama and even better, one inspired by real events. While in this sense the story certainly gives you a unique point of view it felt to me that there was a lack of flow, and certain event just felt abrupt and some characters were underdeveloped, even though they would at first seem quite relevant. I think this are all “problems” due to the fact that it is a first novel but the potential is definitely there and I believe we will have more news from Mr. Majumdar.

Final thoughts

Neil Kappor is the main voice in this story; at 23 he is just starting drama school and he is trying to start this new life without the influence that her mother’s schizophrenia has had on anything else. He doesn’t count with the full support of his father, a university professor, who is afraid that going into drama school will only affect Neil in negative way and even push him to be develop the same illness as his wife. Neil will go to school determined to show him different and in this path he will also fall in love with Emily. As the story advances Neil will have to learn that everybody has problems in their lives and that hiding them doesn’t solve them.

The book started great, very touching and compelling. However, as Neil goes to school and meets new people and gets into “the college life” it began to feel like any other story about a boy getting to college. At certain points it even felt like the schizophrenia story was forgotten. And then you have Emily and the other “friends” Neil gets. They all seemed so messed up and yet could be oh so very boring and predictable. While I believe the idea was to exactly show that everyone has something to deal with, throwing a bunch of broken characters but only showing the cracks seemed superfluous and at times unnecessary. I would’ve preferred less characters and more development of the main ones. I barely got to know the father, or Auntie or for that matter Neil or his mother.

I haven’t been exposed directly to someone with a mental illness such as schizophrenia; when I approached the book I was not expecting to learn about the illness, but rather what it is to live with it or with someone with it. Unfortunately by the end of the book I didn’t get that. Very little family dynamics, only presented as memories, and even then they were very sporadic. I wish we would’ve had chapters about the mother, before and during her stay at the hospital, which by the way, seemed terrifying.

Towards the end it read more like a coming of age story, which is not bad, but again, I approached the book expecting it to be more about the mental illness and less about Neil finding himself through drama school. I would’ve also liked a bit more of the Bengali culture.

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