Mental is a thought-provoking look at how people experience mental ill-health. Across five stories Orla Shanaghy explores the impact of mental illness on not only the person who is ill, but also on the people around them.
The stand out story is Wave, the tale of young couple restoring a boat and hoping it will fix their problems. Will it even paper over the cracks? More importantly, can someone cross the line from needing help to being deliberately manipulative?
Shanaghy’s writing is understated; on occasion this left me wanting more. The final story, Ask Jessica, in particular felt like it ended too soon. Like it wanted to go somewhere, but was stopped in its tracks.
This collection is short enough to finish in one sitting. But you’ll want to take your time; to sit with the characters and ponder whether you would have reacted differently in their situations.
I don't know what words to use to describe just how much I loved this book. I purchased the Kindle edition while my daughter was napping and after picking the roots off of the potatoes for dinner, I sat down to read... and read and read and read. I just finished it 5 minutes ago. Mental is a collection of short stories exploring mental illness in everyday life. To say it is powerful is an understatement. I cared about the characters in this book. I left each story with my heart hurting, wanting to know what happened next, hoping that these fictional characters who could so easily be people in my own life, got the help they needed and hopefully, happy endings of their own. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Mental is a book that touches us all.
Two days after reading through these five stories, my mind is still wandering back to some of these characters -- characters who open themselves up to us in a way they can't to the world they inhabit. While all the stories are set in Ireland -- which is most noticeable in "Grace" -- the theme of mental illness is universal... and it is this condition, and how it affects each character, that takes centre stage. My husband read through the book on the same day and we enjoyed tossing around the ideas and interpreting some of the events (such is the way of short stories--there is much to be read between the lines). His favourites were "Saw" and "Ask Jessica." In terms of writing, I appreciated the language in "Grace" -- and the colour that shone through. But my favourite story, by far, is "Saw." No question. I hope to see more releases from this author in the future.
As my title states a great read. I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. It touches on mental health issues of a variety people, while also taking into account the impact mental health has on those around them. It's characters are fictional but, I feel, especially in today's world they could be any of us, our family members, friends or neighbours.
Mental: Short Stories, is a series of five vignettes that have mental health issues as their theme. While situated in Ireland these stories have a universality that will impact on anyone who has an interest in this subject.
Told from the perspective of men, women and children these stories consistently inspire the reader to experience the powerlessness mental ill-health can often imbue.
While a quick read these stories want to be reread and will stay with the reader for some time.
I was delighted to get a review copy of this long-awaited debut collection of short stories from Orla Shanaghy. These offer a searing insight into the world of mental ill-health and its impact on not just the sufferers, but on the families. Shanaghy has the gift of saying a lot using very few words, which heightens the emotional impact of her stories. Her characters are finely drawn and sympathetic. Her use of objects as metaphors, a saw, a boat, adds a further touch of lyricism. The two stories that stood out were Milk and Wave. Shanaghy is a very subtle writer, and a couple of her story endings (Grace, Ask Jessica) were a little too understated, leaving a gap that wasn't quite filled for me. But this is a beautiful collection from a writer who has a clear understanding of both the techniques and the power of a good short story.
The first thing that struck me about this book was the title and the cover – both stark and unflinchingly honest. And the same could be said of the stories contained within. Five stories of five different people, from various walks of life, dealing with their own mental illness and demons.
The author handles it all with a deft touch that shows she knows the intricacies of the short story form. Her prose is understated but always hits the mark. Highly recommended!
These five stories are understated, like the book cover, but that made them for me all the more powerful. 'Mental' examines the ordinariness of mental illness and how its ripples spread out to touch everyone. It's hard to believe that this is a first book, these are very well crafted stories - I read it in one sitting but the stories keep resurfacing in my mind, especially 'Saw'.