- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Posted October 9, 2009
Having been introduced to the facile writing of Bonnie Rozanski in reading her second novel, the very successful study of autism and other variations of normal called BORDERLINE, picking up BANANA KISS to invest time and thought in Rozanski's meticulous, sensitive ability to explore yet another aspect of the atypical aspect of life at large was at once daunting and exhilarating. Finishing this 'first novel' this reader is left with the conviction that Bonnie Rozanski is a brave and challenging and very gifted writer. Not to frighten away potential readers fearing that such praise may suggest a novelist so off center that she is difficult to read- quite the opposite. The exciting discovery and reinforcement is just how easily Rozanski writes about difficult issues, difficult personalities and is able to inhabit her strange characters so completely that we almost metamorphose into them. By novel's end the fact that the main character and narrator (in BANANA KISS) is a schizophrenic young girl - one Robin Farber - whose chaotic world is reorganized by her own quantum mechanics of her mind that she seems the entirely normal heroine.
Robin lives in Berkshire, a psychiatric institution where her associates include other atypical characters (Beverly, Roz, Derek) whose illnesses keep them from joining the outside world despite the use of drugs and ongoing therapy by the psychiatrist 'Whitecoat' (Dr. Mankiewicz) whose own life and mind have variations from the norm and who overcomes his role as the 'ugly other' for the patients to gain our complete compassion. The story is relayed completely from the viewpoint (and the very intricately accurate language) of the schizophrenic Robin, and it is through her eyes and voices that we learn about her twisted family, her ex-lover Max now marrying her sister Melissa, her copeless mother and her distant stepfather, the marriage of Max and Melissa, and Robin's liaisons with the manic depressive Derek. From her vantage we gain a unique viewpoint of life on the outside, communal living, institutional living, the use and misuse of pharmacological therapy, finding work as a maladaptive persona, and in general the at times thin line that divides the normal from the paranormal/abnormal personality.
Rozanski has created a finely drawn cast of characters, demonstrating once again how she is able to climb into these strange people's minds and manner of communication (has she studied the mentally ill population as closely as this book suggests or is she simply that talented a writer?), and at the same time finds that balance between hilarious descriptions of incidents and responses and moments of gentle tenderness and specks of light that gleam like little joys in a dark world. Read this book, read BORDERLINE, and get to know the skill of a very gifted writer. Bonnie Rozanski takes her reader places beyond imagination, and the getting there is thoroughly entertaining.
Posted July 30, 2007
Robin is the reason I love this book. At first, I found her intensely frustrating. Her desire to be off her medication and allow her condition to take over her thoughts and functions made me angry with her. But then there was a shift. I think it happened when she and Derek escaped and found their way to the Dairy Queen. I found myself pulling for her and hoping that she would find a happier existence, but at the same time being able hold on to a piece of herself that maybe wasn't so healthy, but that was real nonetheless. I was fascinated by the dynamics of her relationships, with her sister and her ex-boyfriend. However, her most significant relationship was with Dr. Mankiewicz, Robin's true champion and quiet hero. If you're interested in being swept away with a story that explores very unique experiences and a mesmerizing frame of mind with a sprinkling of humor, I strongly recommend Banana Kiss.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.