Neil Kapoor, 23, is desperate to create a life beyond the shadow of his mother’s schizophrenia. Years of successive relapses and rehabilitation’s have forced his father into the role of caretaker and Neil into that of silent witness. But there is no light within this joyless ritual, and any hope for the future rests on finding an exit.
Amidst her latest breakdown, Neil attends drama school in pursuit of a role that might better express the truth of who he is. What started as a desperate gambit becomes the fragile threads of a new life. A relationship blooms with Emily, and each finds strength – and demons – in the other. New friendships with Quincy and Tim grow close and complex. But the emotional remove needed to keep these two lives separate destabilizes the family. Neil’s father, the one constant in the chaos, buckles under the pressure. Enlisting the aid of an Aunt with means and questionable motives, Neil plies ever-greater deceptions to keep the darkness at bay. But this time there will be no going back. As his mother falls to terrifying depths a decision must be made: family or freedom?
In this powerful fiction debut, Anish Majumdar shines a much-needed light into the journey of those coping with serious mental disorders and the loved ones who walk alongside them. Incisive and filled with moments of strange beauty, it marks the arrival of a unique voice in American letters.
I am usually drawn to stories featuring characters suffering from mental illness, or about those living alongside people with mental illness. I see these stories as a reflection of real people and the struggle through life. I can appreciate characters without serious mental illness and disorders, we all need some fantastical escapism now and then, but sometimes it’s great to read something far more realistic. Fiction or no.
I’d say the only real issue I had with The Isolation Door were the circle of friends. While they were present, they didn’t impress me with distinction and depth. They weren’t completely unforgettable, but I feel as though I knew them more for their mental illnesses and anxieties, than any other facet of their personalities.
While the story follows Neil and his struggle with his mother being in treatment for Schizophrenia, the characters he comes across definitely have mental illnesses themselves. Granted they are on a different sphere than Schizophrenia, but they’re still serious and debilitating. There’s anxiety, social phobia, depression, eating disorders, and possibly addiction.
It’s great because I find the myriad of mental disorders and illnesses to be a part and parcel of life anyway. To have so many characters reflecting it made me feel comfortable reading the story. Regardless of the character’s downfalls, I was very engaged with The Isolation Door. It was sad, but truthful.
I particularly enjoyed the snippets of the mother’s leg of the journey. The story would follow Neil, but then cut to what his mother was doing. In my view it was written in a way to avoid cliché and I thoroughly appreciated being able to find out what was going on with Neil’s mother without being overwhelmed. It wasn’t one scene with Neil, and then one scene with his mother and back again, but just enough interplay from his mother to fill in any blanks.
The ending surprised me. So many stories have a very neatly wrapped up ending, whether they are a happy one or not, but The Isolation Door wasn’t one of them. It was very ambiguous, which I believe is a type of ending to either work, or fall flat. in this case I think it worked. The reader is left with some answers, some closure, but there’s enough left open to wonder about how it all worked out. Stories have to finish at some point and I think The Isolation Door ended at the right time.
Personally I’ve known very few people, unless they weren’t open about it of course, with Schizophrenia. Usually it’s been from a distance. I’ve never been close to anyone with it so I can’t comment on portrayal of Neil’s mother and Neil himself. It may help that I’m not a stranger to mental illnesses of a different quality, but I found The Isolation Door to be believable and to inspire contemplation.
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction Add to Goodreads
- Rating Out of Five: ♥♥♥♥
- Meet The Author: Anish Majumdar – Facebook – Twitter
- Format: ePub Published: February 4th, 2014, by Ravana Press
- Special Thanks To: TLC Book Tours
- Find At: Amazon US
This review is part of Anish Majumdar’s book tour with TLC Book Tours. Find out more about the tour and all the stops here.
You can find more tour information and upcoming events by clicking through to TLC Book Tours.