Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Literary Litter:
When Pain Has Stained a Peaceful Heart: A woman’s poetic voice tells of heartbreaking mistreatment in our mental health system
by Ann Henry
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Ann Henry had a close-knit family, a normal childhood, and a strong sense of identity. Although she had been healthy for most of her life, at the age of 27, she was stunned to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And so began a fifteen-year journey regaining her mental health, despite the many pitfalls of our mental healthcare system. When Pain Has Stained a Peaceful Heart is based on the true story of Ann’s devastating loss-the loss of her sanity, her voice, and her dignity-and how she fought to regain control over her life with courage and faith. In poetic form, Ann shares the trauma of her experiences in the mental health system through the rhythm of her words and the depth of her emotion. This is an important book not only for those in the mental health profession but also for those who suffer from mental illness and their families by providing an insider’s view of the often chilling reality of treatment facilities. When Pain Has Stained a Peaceful Heart is honest, hard-hitting, and beautifully expressed.
“Ann Henry leaves me questioning our mental health system and the further damage done to individuals in an attempt to ‘help’ them and their families.”
-Cynthia Barrios-Woodward, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Ann Henry wrote When Pain Has Stained a Peaceful Heart in an effort to help shine some light on the realities of the mental health system. As an artist, writer, and now author and poet, Ann opens up and shares some of her deepest wounds in an effort to help educate the general public about atrocities within a system meant for care.
This is a first-person accounting of what it’s like to be a mentally ill person that has been put into ‘they system.’
Ann gave nearly a year of her life in an attempt to regain her sanity, though most of that time wasn’t freely given. Ann was institutionalized. As her confusion and fear grew, she began to lash out, causing her to be moved from place to place.
Having seen the caregiver side of this equation, it was fascinating and heart-wrenching to see Ann’s side. When someone with mental issues is in your care, your number one priority is their physical safety. Your second priority is their mental safety. I’ve gone through the stages of having to force unwanted medication and restrain. However, Ann’s perspective doesn’t see the necessity. Not only is she battling her mind and hallucinations, but she’s also having to battle against a horde of people that she just doesn’t understand. They cause her mental distress and physical pain, all in the name of trying to keep her safe.
This short book has been written in the form of poetry, because that’s the easiest way for Ann to talk about the trauma she endured as a mental patient. Talking about trauma and attempting to get past it is incredibly difficult and I applaud Ann in her efforts.
What she has accomplished here is the necessity for empathy in the caregiver system. I’ve seen several nurses and doctors that have it in spades, but I’ve also seen the opposite. In a career where you’re dealing with violent and loud, confused people on a day to day basis, it’s important that you find healthy ways of coping. Too often it leads to an immunity and we no longer see what we’re doing from the other person’s point of view.
This is a quick and important read. If mental illness has touched your or anyone you know, or if you deal in any way with the care of someone with mental illness, you’ll find a fresh new look at things that can be integral in your relationships.
Keep in mind, because this is a first-person accounting, we only see one side of the story, Ann’s. This is not an attempt to discredit mental institutions or cast blame, but rather an attempt to get people to take a closer look at what’s going on. It’s also Ann’s way to try to make sense of this period in her life and heal and grow.
[ reviewed by Shawn Remfrey of Literary Litter ]
Here’s what other reviewers are saying:
Ann Henry is indeed a talented writer and poet. Her words will capture readers’ attention from the first page. The words envelope around the readers and drag them through the journey that Ann Henry has brilliantly written. The emotional experiences, from reading When Pain Has Stained A Peaceful Heart, is phenomenal. Inside this beautiful read, readers will find one woman’s voice using poetry to tell her heartbreaking story. One that involves mistreatment within our mental health system.
This book is not a fictional piece but a real woman’s journey through a difficult time in her life. Ann Henry’s poetry flows in a way that lures readers further into her tale. Can you image having your normal life suddenly taken from you at the age of 27? Well, Ann Henry did. Her mental health took a nose dive and the treatment she received only plunged her down further. Fifteen years of working on regaining her life again…is a sad, yet remarkable read. Ann Henry suffered but made her way through the hardships life dealt her. A strong independent woman who serves as a reminder and inspiration to readers everywhere. I can’t remember a time when a piece of poetry grabbed my attention the way this book has…When Pain Has Stained A Peaceful Heart is definitely a must read for all. I highly recommend reading this woman’s story.
– Amazon Reviewer Danielle Urban
I have relatives that have been in mental institutions as patients and one that was a nurse and worked for a time in a mental hospital. When I was full-time at a local college with a nursing program I was friends with one of the nursing instructors whose specialty was psychiatric nursing. She used to discuss some of her experiences in dealing with mental patients and how difficult it can be. A major concern is their unpredictability, some can become violent in an instant and be a danger, most often to themselves rather than others.
Therefore, given this background, I must confess that I read this book with a skeptical mind. The author uses prose to describe her experiences in a mental hospital and how she was forcibly held down while she received injections of her medications. Henry also mentions that she refused to take her meds and that she punched one of the hospital staff.
I certainly understand that all is not sweet and light in mental hospitals and that abuse of the patients occurs. Her account of the events may be true and the staff was rougher with her than they should have been. Yet, it is also very possible that she was a problem patient and the amount of force that was used was not out of bounds. This book must be read with both of these ideas firmly in mind.
The text has a solid rhythm and tells a sad story of triumph, from the sudden descent into a loss of sanity (her words) to a slow recovery over the course of fifteen years. Her experiences of being forcibly restrained and drugged and her battles to regain control are both wrenching and revealing. Fortunately, it seems clear that Henry has recovered, as there is an order and structure to her writings about her experiences. Many people that suffer from such illnesses never recover to the point where they can write about their experiences in a quality manner.
– Goodreads Reviewer Charles
Thanks for reading! Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space every Saturday!
Self Publishing Advisor