“‘Why don’t I remember my childhood, and why don’t I believe in my future?’
‘I suppose it’s true that I have been you,’ here Eve waved her arms at the children.
‘And I suppose that it is you that I will become,’ here she glanced at the old and older women.
‘But if we all lined up in a row, I still wouldn’t feel as though this could be called a life at all…'”
–“Mental,” Chapter Twenty-Two
Mental (2018) is a novel that I began working on during my parents’ divorce in 1995 when I was seventeen and about to leave home for UT Austin, continued working on off and on through my ten year high school English teaching career in my single twenties in Houston, and finally completed after twenty-three years of writing when I was a married 42 year old mother of a 7 year old daughter living as full-time writer/mother living in Tomball, TX, in 2018.
This novel is about Eve Stuart, a 22 year old high school English teacher who graduated early from college and is experiencing a nervous breakdown of a somewhat unknown origin. Her twin sister is writing this novel about her to try and figure out what is wrong with her: so she graduated from college too early, so she has quit what is probably the most stressful job you can get right out of college, so she cheated on her first grownup boyfriend, so their parents got a messy divorce when the twins were in high school, so what? writes her twin sister, Lilly, in the first section of Mental…Lilly is writing this “novella” for a college elective and it is supposed to be a secret–she has found her twin’s journals and uses them liberally to augment her story.
Part Two is a flashback to what Eve was like when she was still in college and writing her own novel, a dreamy dreamer full of love and promise, in love for the first real time (which eventually went south) and interacting with a pivotal character: one of three homeless characters in the novel, a woman named Gloria, whom she meets behind the bookstore where she works when she is taking out the trash and who is the first person who challenges her naivete.
Part Three is told by subject Eve herself, written the night before Lilly’s novella is due in her workshop class, snuck into the pages as a sort of surprise and a response to the first two parts. Told in the first person, it is a detailed revelation of what it is like to have a nervous breakdown and also reveals to the audience the real secret behind Eve’s depression. Eve, however, is ready to get past this as much as it is possible to get past it and ready to embark on the uncertain life of a writer.
This novel unfold much like a mystery, is full of Eve’s poetry (Part Two’s chapters begin with rhyming and metered poetry), and is a tale about the heart, the head and the difficulties in getting the two to work together in concert after emotional damages have been done. This novel’s subject matter may at times be dark, but it has a hard won happy ending and an overwhelmingly positive view of the human spirit. It is also true that this novel is about me, that I used the convention of writing about twins because I happen to be bipolar, and that I was writing about the reasons for my own mental breakdowns and the ways in which I got past them.
You can click on https://www.amazon.com/author/mariekjohnston to purchase a copy of Mental now for $9.99, or you can enter to win a signed copy of this novel and its 3 companion books of poetry here: https://gleam.io/pquX9/marie-k-johnston-book-campaign-i! Contest ends on 6/15/20, so enter today!
To continue reading on another of my exciting website destinations, visit:
https://www.Amazon.com/author/mariekjohnston (Biography & Bibiography),
https://www.MarieKJohnston (Fiction & Folk Art) &
https://www.BipolarLifer (My Journal & Self-Help)