Margaret Hawkins spent her girlhood dazzled by her vivacious, high-achieving sister, Barb. Younger than Barb by eleven years, Margaret saw her sister as the star of her family. And no wonder. Barb's high school years were filled with achievement inside and outside of the classroom. After college, Barb married a charming young professor, Karim Shallal, and embraced living abroad with him, when he was offered a full professorship at Basra University in Iraq. That was in 1971.
In three years, everything changed. As Margaret Hawkins writes in her new book, How We Got Barb Back: The Story of My Sister's Reawakening after 30 Years of Schizophrenia, "On a promising day in 1974, my family's life blew up. That was the day my beautiful, bright, and very American older sister returned from Iraq. Something had changed during those years she was gone, and the Barb we knew never really returned. That Barb had vanished, and though her husband tried to bring her home, she was already gone."
Unimaginable as it might seem, for the next 32 years Barb went undiagnosed and untreated. How We Got Barb Back recounts the story of those years and the steps Margaret Hawkins took to bring her sister back from the depths of crippling mental illness. This story of sisterly love is both full of surprises and profoundly inspiring.
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About the Author
Margaret Hawkins teaches writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was an art critic for the Chicago Sun-Times for more than two decades. She is also a Chicago correspondent for ARTnews. Her essays have appeared in a variety of national publications. Her debut novel, A Year of Cats and Dogs, published last year to strong reviews and her new novel, How to Survive a Natural Disaster, publishes this fall.
Carolyn S. Spiro, MD is a co-author of Divided Minds.
Read an Excerpt
From the Foreword:
"My advice: Read this book. If your light isn't blown into flame after reading it the first time, Read It Again. Then, buy it for a friend. As a thank you gift." -Carolyn Spiro, MD, author of Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia