TO KEEP HIM SAFE
This book was as fresh as the forsythias blooming in my garden. It tells the difficult story of a family with the unusual dynamic of a son who is artistically brilliant while presenting the traits of a paranoid schizophrenic. The story flows through the life of the family through the years of marriage and child raising. It is balanced in its approach to not focusing just on the son but including all the members of the family including dogs. Sarah is the person in the family I related to the best since I was raised with a twin brother artistically talented but had several disabilities. This would not be a book I would choose to write but the characters and scenes were fleshed out well. Surprisingly for me, I missed the characters after the book was read. I highly recommend this debut novel To Keep Him Safe.
Pam Burkett, Part time Poet and Avid reader
To Keep Him Safe, the new novel by Gayle Parish, is a lovingly written story of a family dealing with the mental health issues of their first child. I give it a top rating of five stars. The author gently takes on a difficult subject and pours her words out smoothly while unflinchingly conveying the doubts, frustrations, chaos, self discovery, and fear that comes with a mental issue diagnosis and the havoc it wrecks in a young family’s life over many decades.
The author doesn’t hold back any punches in the telling of this tale, but doesn’t overwhelm the reader with psychobabble. Her descriptions of mental illness and addictions and the effects it has on a family never feels like a lecture. She gives descriptions that are respectful to the readers and are easily understandable.
I really enjoyed being taken into the inner workings of this family and the way the author quietly conveys the heartbreaking desperation of dealing with how a child with mental illness affects every character in a different and unique way. The tight rope walk of maintaining a sense of normalcy for her other child and husband and job, while diligently struggling to keep the ill child safe is beautifully and touchingly told.
I recommend this book for anyone that enjoys a smooth and engrossing story. If you’ve ever had a loved one who has suffered with addictions or mental illness, To Keep Him Safe, should be on your must read list. Well done!
FIVE STARS!! – How does a family survive the sudden onset of mental illness in one of its members? In To Keep Him Safe, her first novel, Parish invites us into this experience through the eyes of Lillian Hawke as her family comes to grips with their oldest child’s battle with schizoaffective disorder. Parish skillfully draws the reader in the whirlwind of emotions the family experiences in this compelling and beautiful story. Though they must face harsh reality, the reader will learn with them, rejoice in small victories, experience both agony and laughter, and fall in love with each member of this family. Once I started reading I could not stop until the final page, feeling both drained and empowered by what the Hawkes had allowed me to experience with them.
The significance of the title Gayle chose for her book, To Keep Him Safe, seems to increase as the story unfolds. The specific goals to ‘keep him safe’ change as the story unfolds. definition of safety changes for each person in the story. As a reader, I found myself wanting to keep the characters safe from the circumstances they find themselves in as their lives revolve and change. Being safe can become a compelling series of adjustments throughout life’s journey.
Imagine you come home one day to find your house is being torn apart by a man who is clearly hearing voices and seeing things that are not there. Now imagine that this scary young man is your son. Although speaking about mental illness, especially within our own families, still seems taboo, it is something that many people deal with every day. In To Keep HIm Safe, Gayle Parish shares her insights as only someone with personal experience can. A professional counselor herself, Gayle shares the struggles from the perspective of a loving mother whose son lives with schizophrenia and the accompanying agitation and hallucinations that come with it. Life is not easy for this family, but they learn to love each other deeply as they deal with challenges that would tear many families apart. There are dark days and days where sunshine drives away that darkness as her son communicates in the best way he can – through his art. An impressive story that both fascinates and educates the reader. A must read for everyone.
I finished reading Gayle’s book over the weekend. Wow! I really enjoyed it. I love her voice and how relatable the characters are. It is a touching story, and I will always keep those characters in my heart, recalling their lives, how they dealt with so much throughout the decades.