Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker

What a fascinating book in so many ways.

Don and Mimi Galvin had 12 children–10 boys and two girls. Six of those boys would end up with schizophrenia or another version of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder. Did nature or nurture have more to do with this outcome? Why were the two girls unaffected–and why did the four other boys not show signs or symptoms of mental illness, either? The history of the Galvin family is sharp-edged and hard to look at sometimes. Aside from issues of mental illness, there is physical abuse, sexual abuse, and certain forms of neglect. Each member of the family unaffiliated with a mental health illness found his or her own path–of escape, of understanding, of reconciliation.

In Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, the author weaves together both family history and the history of the scientific examination of schizophrenia to produce a very readable and human look at an extraordinary American family.

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