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4.3 out of 5 stars34
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 13 June 1999
This is a truly amazing book. I'd like to be more literate in review, but this book puts me in awe. The book is about a 27 year old woman named Joy Stone. Her illicit lover has just recently died and it sends her into a spiral of depression. Janice Galloway is one of the best authors around right now, and captures the human mind wonderfully. She has the ability to switch around perspectives, and making the reader (willing or not) venture into the character's mind. Her ability to mix dry wit with such a sad story make for a great read.
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on 21 July 2003
An excellent book that shows how fragile the human mind is, and how little it can take to push someone over the edge. If you take a little time to read it, it's easy to see a bit of oneself - those slightly "irrational" things you do for your own reasons that no-one else knows of or understands. The writing style - fluid, personal, yet coherent enough to make a good book - is a pleasure to read and a welcome break from traditional novels. The only complaint I would have is that the ending is a little twee, but luckily this doesn't detract from the main content of the book.
Whilst this book isn't hard to read, for me it is a more significant read than the lighter "Girl, Interrupted". I found "Girl, Interrupted" a little too disjointed in its storytelling, and somehow doesn't get across the feeling of personal distress that is apparent in The Trick is to Keep Breathing.
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on 14 August 2008
The tense, fractured, unorthodox, brilliant prose takes us into a mind that is slowly cracking apart, despite the narrator's heroic, nail-shredding efforts to maintain a grip on reality. Throughout the book, she teeters on the edge of madness, fit neither for life, nor for the strait-jacket, going in and out of an asylum, in a troubling, disorienting, see-saw journey. I found myself feeling for with the tortured soul, and I often rooted desperately for her recovery. The taut, frenetic, often foreshortened, sentences (which sometimes abruptly cut into white space) make for a challenging, unorthodox, sometimes telegraphic, read. We get the sense of the narrator's life cracking, melting, and breaking apart, in a series of crafty, disturbing, surreal images. Appropriately, there is no sense of a 'whole' life, only of its fragments and remnants - often strewn across a whole swathe of days, like the maimed pieces of a jig-saw puzzle. The book is disturbing, sometimes funny and Galloway has created a language of her own. It is the book that the author of 'Prozac Nation' might wish that she had written.
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on 9 January 2007
'The Trick is to Keep Breathing' is one of my favorite books. It is beautifully constructed: a gripping story, powerfully told. The prose is deceptively simple, using a variety of forms (including the typesetting itself) with elegance and poignancy. Although the subject is bereavement and loss, it is ultimately about forgiveness and recovery. And quite a journey. Very moving. Highly recommended. BTW: has also been adapted for stage and radio.
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VINE VOICEon 5 December 2009
How can you heart keep beating when the man you love is dead, a man who you're not even permitted to grieve for because although he had left his wife it is she who claims his body and is named at the funeral. This is the story of the ironically named Joy 'lasting' this ordeal after her lover drowns, her complete breakdown in the face of the shattering of her world consigning her to a psychiatric ward, and the men and women who love her and despite her continue to reach her. Reveals the true horror of grief and the dangers of wrapping a life around a single person. Deeply moving, Galloway traces a narrative through a blasted emotional landscape with skill and feeling.
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on 13 June 2013
This book was recommended by BBC's "Open Book". I'd never heard of Janice Galloway before and I'm glad I've found her writings. I work with stories and expressive writing in mental health and Social Care, so I was intrigued by the idea of writing sboit mental ill health. The author writes with searing honesty, extraordinary powers of observation and manages to describe uncomfortable and chaotic states of mind in a way that utterly engages. A fascinating, sometimes grimly painful, yet compassionate book. I bought her two biographies as well, also couldn't put them down.
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on 27 June 2014
This isn't a book you'd read if you're feeling down or in winter, it is bleak and even the rare moments of hope are pretty subdued. I found the central character a person I have huge sympathy and empathy for, a lot of her brain numbing and frustrating conversations with medical "experts" ring very true for me. I often think of her as I grate my teeth speaking with doctors. Infact, I often think that most of them could do with reading a novel like this as part of their medical training.
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on 25 September 2011
I first read this book back in the 90's and immediately passed it on to a friend with my recommendation. After reading Janice's book, "This is not about me" I bought "The trick is to keep breathing" a second time and enjoyed it even more.
For me it was a story of survival, of clinging on, of waiting for time to heal. Janice Galloway uses words like an artist uses a brush, painting pictures of emotions. The characters were all believable and her descriptions and dialogue evoked so many emotions in me - sympathy, empathy, anger, sorrow. I read this book quickly and felt I really was in the flow with the story. Janice Galloway deserves her place as one of the most talented contemporary British writers.
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on 14 September 2010
I bought this book on impulse for just 20p when I was at college and it's turned out to be one of the best books I've ever read. What we've got here is a solid psychological character study of a young woman cracking up. She guides us through her fractured mind and world in a really effective atmospheric way, through descriptions, encounters with others, thoughts, and - at times - even humour. If you like 'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath, (another great book), then you'll probably like this as well.
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on 24 April 2009
This book is a really good read from start to finish. Galloway tells the story of Joy, who is a woman who lives in constant fear and darkness. She spends most of her days going through menial tasks in a haze where everything feels stark and unappealing. Galloway really shows the fragility of the human spirit and how difficult it is to live with a mental illness. Her style of writing is immediately captivating and you are drawn into Joy's neurotic world. One that I would definitely recommend!
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