Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell
Pages: 216 pgs.
First Published: Sept. 2008
Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee.
Comments: This book is deep and difficult for me to write about as I'm not sure I "got" the whole thing. I'll make an attempt at my impressions. Two siblings both have psychological problems. The girl, Ruth, is the main character and suffers from delusions, paranoia, schizophrenia and OCD while her brother seems to suffer on a lesser degree from delusions. They also have their grandmother living at home with them as she is dying and also delusional. The book follows the girl's descent into madness while those around her stand by and do nothing. She recognizes her mind is different and so does her brother, together they can talk to each other about it. We watch as Ruth starts out trying to make her way through each day until in the end her illnesses smother and bury who she once was.
The book is done is black and white, with a lot of the pages having a black background. Many scenes have word bubbles with writing so tiny or scribbled it is unreadable, these are the background voices that Ruth doesn't hear in her world. The story is intense and yet, there is no real plot. The book tries to capture a feeling in words and pictures. I sort of enjoyed the book. Probably up to the mid-point I was enjoying it but honestly, I didn't see the point of the story. I have mental health issues myself (some of which were mirrored in the book) and the book seemed to just be saying to me, "Look, this is what it feels like to go crazy". Perhaps others will get more out of it. I recommend the book for higher aged teens because of the swearing (which includes the f-word) and a small amount of teenage sex.