Tuesday, June 2, 2009

House of Happy Endings, Finale

I finished House of Happy Endings over the weekend and I'm on the fence. The book mainly focused on Leslie's father's depression and how it affected the rest of the family. At certain points she was just relaying information from her father's medical records. Other times the story felt repetitive: he's depressed, he collapsed, he's addicted to barbiturates, they have no money, he can't get out of his own father's shadow...Repeat. In this case, the story could be a little boring.

However, I do think the book can be considered an interesting case study in depression. The book demonstrates that while depression may be an individual's disease, the disease does not affect only the individual. Leslie, her brothers and her mother woke up each day not knowing what to expect. Would dad get out of bed today? Would he spend their nonexistent money on a new car? Would they need an ambulance? With most everything they did they had to consider the father's mental health and well-being. The fact that the children grew up a bit different than other children, or the fact that by the time she was 50 years old the mother was at her wit's end, is no surprise - and actually quite sad.

So, if what the book accomplishes is to get readers to look at depression differently and understand it's OK to ask for help (because life is too short), then I think it's met its purpose.

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