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The Lost Child: A Mother's Story de Julie…

The Lost Child: A Mother's Story (original: 2009; edição: 2009)

de Julie Myerson

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13344164,900 (3.06)5
A personal and moving account of two children; a girl living in Regency England and Julie's own troubled son.
Título:The Lost Child: A Mother's Story
Autores:Julie Myerson
Informação:Bloomsbury USA (2009), Hardcover, 336 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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The Lost Child: A Mother's Story de Julie Myerson (2009)


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Oh dear oh dear.

This book has one saving grace in that it is not as extreme in tone as some other drug related misery memoirs. What it lacks in extremity, it also lacks in conviction: at least the extreme anti-drug memoirists like Debra Bell stake out a position.

What this book shares with its extremist cousins is that it is high on emotion and anecdote, but dreadfully short on evidence.

There is a whole series of questions Myerson could have asked herself when discussing the subject of drugs. Yet she fails to do so. The questions she failed, but indeed must, ask, if a balanced review of the subject is to be approached, include the following:

Does prohibition make it easier for under-18 year olds to access drugs?
If Cannabis made her son behave so badly, how can she explain the fact millions of people use cannabis, but do not behave badly?
If drug use explains bad behaviour, how does she explain how some people behave badly, even though they are not using drugs?
Does she really believe that people that use drugs deserve to be treated like criminals?
If she is concerned with the mental health implications of cannabis use: how does she explain how prohibition reduces this harm, when the evidence suggests that it increases the harm?

But then if she had bothered to ask herself these questions this would have been a different book. Indeed, it may have led her to conclude that instead of blaming drugs, the blame for her pain and grief must lie elsewhere. ( )
  rory1000 | Jan 9, 2012 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.

Any parent who has had to confront a child’s drug abuse is familiar with the drawn-out agony of despair, impotence, fear, grief and, while there is still a chance for recovery, hope. That last is perhaps the most ravaging of all. Hope means you aren’t yet numb enough, not yet at peace with the chaos into which life has spilled, not yet so defeated and angry that you’re unable to try to help. Julie Myerson, a novelist living in London and the mother of three children, was finally forced to throw her eldest son out of the house — and change the locks — when his cannabis habit so deranged him that he became physically violent. He was 17 years old.

“I am flattened, deadened. I have nothing in my mind except the deep black hole that is the loss of my child,” she writes in “The Lost Child: A Mother’s Story.” Myerson undergoes a crash course in drugs. Her son is smoking skunk, she learns, a strain of cannabis whose THC content is much more potent than garden-­variety pot — except that it has become garden variety. I had never heard of skunk either, but a quick search online led me to a souk of seeds for the home farmer, advertising up to a toxic 22 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in some strains. My shopping cart remained empty as I browsed in disbelief. Even as stronger varieties are being bred and marketed, medical research is linking cannabis use to behavioral and cognitive changes reminiscent of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and anxiety disorder. And yet we find ourselves arguing about whether pot is addictive or a gateway drug or should be legalized. We are collectively losing our minds. “The Lost Child” is a cry for help and a plea for a clear acknowledgment of the toll this drug is taking on our children.

Myerson does have something else on her mind while her son’s life shatters. She is in the midst of writing a book about a young woman, Mary Yelloly, who died of consumption in 1838, at the age of 21. Mary left behind an “extraordinary” album of more than 200 watercolors of a fantasy family’s life in Regency England. (The Yale Center for British Art owns three other sketchbooks attributed to her sisters.) Myerson sets out to bring Mary Yelloly to life, tracking down descendants of the family, visiting old houses, discovering diaries and keepsakes stashed in cardboard boxes. Interleaved are descriptions of the madness unfolding in Myerson’s own home. Her son has turned on his 13-year-old brother. He is crashing on friends’ ­sofas, disappearing for weeks at a time, only to turn up haggard, ill, insensible and still stoned.

Mary and the boy are a strange, difficult pair. The switching back and forth between their stories is jarring and confusing — Mary is addressed intimately as “you”; “the boy,” nameless, is always spoken of in the third person — and mostly maddening. Perhaps there’s a problem in across-the-pond translation: I couldn’t begin to understand why I should care about Mary Yelloly. Her story pales in comparison with the boy’s. There is something tepid in its effect.

I could see what Myerson might be getting at. Mothers in any century will grieve over their lost children. Mothers in any century save little tokens of their love. ­Every era has its plagues. But the unfolding narrative of a sick child — a sick child here and now — has such inviolable urgency that I had to force myself not to skip past Mary to keep the boy in my sights. Myerson heightens the delusional nature of her quest in a moving scene that draws on her strengths as a novelist: a conversation in a church with Mary’s ghost. “He’s very lonely,” Mary tells her. “He’ll come back.” Mothers will find comfort wherever they can.

But, of course, Myerson finds no respite in her imagination. She is brutal in describing the heartbreaking varieties of hell through which she and her family are dragged. They speak to a psychiatrist who explains that the potency of THC in skunk “can do untold and irreversible damage.” They attend meetings of Families Anonymous. They withhold money from their son, who refuses rehab, but then they relent. The cycle plays itself out several times, with horrifying consequences. Among the more harrowing moments is a struggle with the boy for the key to the house; he strikes his mother’s head so hard that her eardrum is perforated. But even more stunning is that, on her return from the hospital, the family goes out to dinner and “talked about other things. Talked and laughed. The boy didn’t tell me he was sorry and I didn’t ask him to.”

Are you kidding me? I wrote in the margin so hard that my pencil pushed through the page. I had fallen into the trap of Back-seat Parenting. Myerson had her reasons, good, compassionate ones. As she makes clear, no one is harder on the parents of a lost child than the parents themselves, who, with the hindsight bequeathed by their predicament, compulsively review every decision, second-guess every turn, pick through every shard of memory, looking for a clue: Why has this happened? Myerson describes an abusive phone call from an acquaintance whose son is the same age as hers; the mother wants Myerson to know that she’s a misguided, irresponsible parent whose tough love has pushed her son into the abyss.

“What can we do?” The boy’s father and mother repeat this question over and over. It’s a question that booms through the (sadly) flourishing literature about children and drug abuse. Raise your hand if you’ve ever called a parent to say: “Your child is in trouble. Your child is doing drugs. Your child’s friends are worried about him.” That’s what I expected; not many hands. “The Lost Child” will appeal to readers of David Sheff’s “Beautiful Boy,” still the standard-bearer — but that’s not enough. These are books for all parents, no matter what shape they think their children are in. Indeed, these books are for anyone interested in public policy relating to drugs. Why would we choose not to see what’s happening all around us? Books like these signal the beginning of awareness. And the beginning of hope that we can do right by our children. ( )
  JooniperD | Nov 15, 2011 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
Myerson's story is really two stories in one - her research into a historical girl and her family, and her life with her son who is an addict.
I did not find that the two stories were very cohesive. Myerson's personal story about her son was very compelling. She is brutally honest and I found myself caring greatly about her family and longing to know more about them. At the same time, I was not the least bit interested in learning more about her historical girl.
Myerson is a wonderful writer and I wish this book had just been her personal story. I find myself thinking about her family from time to time and I truly wish them well. ( )
  ddirmeyer | Jul 17, 2011 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
I really liked this book. It completely held my interest, and the pages kept turning.

I don't usually enjoy books containing simultaneous story lines because I find it very distracting, but this book was very well done. The vignettes were short, and I loved the short chapters as well - I think that helped to keep things moving along and held my interest as the book moved from present day to the life of one girl (one family, really) in the early 1800's. Being a somewhat "lazy historian", I loved the short, historical references, and the book as a whole is beautifully written. I'm anxious to read more by this author.

Furthermore, this is one of the most unique memoirs I have ever read. I can imagine the mess that a less-talented writer could have made out of an attempt to meld the two storylines. I'm not sure that I completely understand the author's fascination with the young Mary Yelloly, but the last page of the afterword put things in perspective for me.

As the mother of young boys, I found Ms. Myerson's descriptions of mothering a troubled young man extremely heartfelt and heart-wrenching. An unexpected bonus of reading this memoir? It gave me some perspective on issues we are currently confronting with our eldest son - thank you!

Overall, a great read. ( )
  michellereads | Mar 19, 2011 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
This is a most interesting book. The two stories intertwine quite well, each adding to the other. The writing style, however, took some getting used to; at first it dragged my attention away from the story to the actual writing, which took something away from the story. However, once I got used to the writing, the book was easy enough to follow, and is one that I'd be likely to read again. ( )
  FinnyB | Jan 3, 2011 |
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For him: he knows who he is and I love him.
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SSuffolk, June 1838. A day so hot the air is glass.
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To be absolutely honest, he says carefully, I wasn't all that interested in the stuff about the Mary Yelloly person.
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A personal and moving account of two children; a girl living in Regency England and Julie's own troubled son.

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