Book Review: Chanel Bonfire

018_br_chanelbonfireRead for: FABClub Monthly Memoir for March
Rating 3.5/5
This is an entertaining, darkly funny memoir. The language was fairly basic but the writing flowed nicely, and the story unfolded quickly allowing me to demolish it in a few hours. Lawless certainly lived an interesting (for lack of a more appropriate word) life with her drastic and uncontrollable mother. The major concern I had with this book was the fact that quite literally nothing was done to treat the obvious mental health troubles of Wendy’s mother. I suppose this can be chalked up to the times (70’s, 80’s, 90’s) when mental health was still something that was suffered behind closed doors. It being the year 2014, however, I find it shocking that Wendy’s mother was left to her own devices by her children, friends and ex-husbands. She clearly needed help, and though she was hospitalized several times for short periods, it was clear that so much more needed to be done. Her behaviour was a cry for help. She was severely ill, and the way she was presented by Wendy was entirely too lighthearted given the misery she was causing for her children, not to mention the dangerous situations she put them in. I found the ending to be especially sad. I work with individuals who experience a variety of both diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health issues and have seen first hand how lives can be destroyed by mental illness left untreated. This is a topic that needs to be addressed very publicly, and I’m disappointed that Wendy fell short of offering any insights into treatment for her mother or for others who are experiencing the same scenarios in their families today. The way this society treats mental illness is embarrassing; we only need to think back to Britney Spears circa the shaven head umbrella incident, and more recently of the troubles Amanda Bynes was having to see how we treat mental illness… too many people think it’s “funny” to watch people just crumble emotionally. Lawless missed an opportunity to educate others on the ways to deal with mental illness appropriately. Despite all the complaining I just did, I found this book enjoyable. I just wish there was that additional nugget of information in there that there is help, real help, available to those who suffer with similar behavioral disorders.

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