Mac Anderson holds life in the palm of his hand. He has a beautiful wife, three loving children, a comfortable home, and a successful career. Everything is perfector so it seems. Tragically, Mac is destined to learn that any sense of security can quickly prove false. Because an invisible enemy called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has invaded Mac’s fragile mind and it is about to drop him to his knees. He does all he can to conceal his inner chaos, but to no avail. Left to contend with ignorance, an insensitive justice system, and the struggles of an invisible disease, he loses everythingmost importantly his family. One shoebox might store an old pair of sneakers. Two shoeboxes might contain a lifetime of photographs. But in Three Shoeboxes, a father’s undying love may be just enough to make things right again.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island, the national bestseller Ashes, and the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
Read an Excerpt
It was their fifteen-year wedding anniversary. Fifteen years, MacKenzie Anderson thought, feeling the weight of the special occasion. I should've waited until this year to give Jen the diamond bracelet, he thought, cursing himself for his premature decision the year before. I'm going to be making payments for the next couple of years anyway.
In the hopes of being creative or original, MacKenzie — Mac, as most people called him — abandoned his mind and ventured into his heart, where he hoped the answer to his dilemma could be found. It didn't take long for the only obvious choice to hit him. I got it! he thought. Rather than the usual material token, I'll give Jen a peek into the future. For our fifteen-year wedding anniversary, I'll give her a promise. His mind raced for more details. I'll also fill a box with ... He nodded, a smile filling his handsome face. I know exactly what to do.
* * *
Mac awoke earlier than Jen, as he had for the better part of a decade and a half. Sitting up, he took the few precious moments needed to confirm how much he really loved her. Though he'd memorized it years ago, he studied the soft contours of his wife's face framed by a full head of chocolate locks. Working his way down, he focused on her full lips. She smiled; it was the slightest grin, but enough to steal away his yawn. He inhaled deeply. Her smell was so sweet, so distinct. I'd recognize it in either heaven or hell, he decided. She stirred once, and again, before struggling to open her eyelids and reveal a pair of light hazel eyes that sparkled with life. Mac never budged; he was inches from her face when her senses registered his presence. "Happy anniversary, beautiful," he whispered.
With a low purr, Jen pulled him to her. They hugged for a long while. "I love you," she finally breathed into his ear.
He squeezed her tighter. After all these years, he thought, she still owns my heart.
While she lay in a mountain of warm cotton blankets, he dressed for work. "I'm really sorry I have to work late on our anniversary," he told her.
"Will you stop apologizing," she said. "I told you, I understand."
He nodded. "I promise, we'll celebrate next weekend. We'll get a babysitter and go out."
She smiled, kissed him again and watched him hurry out the door.
* * *
Unlocking the car door, Mac slid behind the steering wheel and looked back at the house. What a trooper, he thought, pretending it doesn't bother her. But she was disappointed and he knew it. After being together for so long, even the best acting wouldn't have fooled either of them. Wait until she finds out what I've got planned for tonight, he thought chuckling. He looked back at the house again, unsure about the last time he'd been this excited to go out on a date.
* * *
"Stay out of my stuff," Bella yelled at her little brother, her screech traveling down the stairs from her bedroom.
"I wasn't in your stuff, Beans," Brady yelled back.
Jen shook her head. Now there's a lie, she thought. As she went about her normal morning routine — primarily cleaning up after the three hurricanes she called Jillian, Bella and Brady — she spotted a young man dawdling around the front of her house. Back-stepping into the shadows, she watched the kid for a moment from the living room window. Carrying a long white box, he was clearly searching for a specific house number. And he looked more stressed than anyone his age should have been. He's making a delivery, Jen decided, smiling, from Mac. The boy finally confirmed the address and rang the Anderson's doorbell. Jen answered the door.
"A delivery for Mrs. Anderson," the kid said.
"That's me," Jen said, signing for the package and giving him a well-deserved tip. "Thank you."
He half-nodded before sprinting away.
Cradling the white box in her arms, she watched him with amusement. I wish my kids had something they took that seriously. She closed the front door and slid the bow from the box. It was a lovely bouquet of long-stemmed roses, fifteen in all. One for each year, she thought. She'd told Mac, "No flowers this year. We can use the money elsewhere." But she'd never been so happy he'd ignored her wishes. She plucked the card free and read, "Thank you for fifteen great years, three beautiful children and one incredible life." There's the man I fell in love with, she thought, her smile lasting until the moment her thoughtful husband returned home.
Both of Mac's feet weren't in the house when he announced. "We have dinner reservations tonight." He winked at her. "And you have a half hour to get ready." She hugged him. "I love you," she said, "but a half hour?"
He laughed. "Hurry," he said, patting her on the backside. "It's all arranged. I'm bringing the kids to your sister's so we have all night." He smiled.
All night, she repeated in her head. Now that's something different.
* * *
It was just past twilight when they pulled up to D'Avios, a fancy restaurant located at the bottom of the posh Biltmore Hotel in Providence. The young valet attendant opened Jen's door. In one swift motion, he caught Mac's keys, along with a promise for a good tip.
"I'll get you on the way out," Mac said, grabbing his wife's hand to escort her into the restaurant.
Jen tucked a wrapped present under her other arm, surveying her husband's free hand. He must have gotten me something small enough to put in his pocket, she figured.
* * *
The ambiance was perfect, the service reached beyond doting, yet neither of these could compare to the meal. The filet mignon swimming in béarnaise sauce melted like ice cream in July.
"Surprised?" he asked, grabbing for her hand.
"I actually am this time," she admitted. After so many failed attempts at keeping a secret, she was impressed her husband hadn't leaked a word — especially to the kids, she thought. "Thank you."
A pink hue spread evenly across his boyish face. "You're welcome."
Jen studied her husband, wondering, How did I ever get so lucky? Beyond his dark hair and penetrating eyes, he was the definition of a devoted husband and father who considered spending time with his three children a favorite pastime. And he'd worked hard for years, finally reaching a point in his life — at thirty-eight — when he could start breathing easier. "How's work?" she asked.
"Ross just assigned us a pretty big project," he said and stopped. "But I don't want to talk about work tonight."
What about talking about me returning to work then? she asked in her head. "The kids then?" she teased.
"Nope," he said. "I couldn't love them any more than I do, but even they can survive without our attention for the next few hours."
She was taken aback. With all our day-to-day responsibilities, I can't remember the last time we shared a night like this, she thought, her chest feeling warm.
They'd just ordered coffee and dessert when the pianist stopped playing and made an announcement. "I'd like to ask everyone to join me in wishing Mr. and Mrs. Mac Anderson a happy anniversary. Fifteen years ago today, they took each other as man and wife, and we're honored to have them celebrating with us tonight."
There was a buzz of polite applause.
Stunned, Jen looked across the table to catch the blush of a little boy paint her considerate husband's face again. Before she could say a word, the pianist broke into his next song — their wedding song. Her chest filled with emotion, causing her eyes to swell. "Thank you, Mac," she whispered past the lump in her throat. "I ..."
He leaned across the table and grabbed her hand, interrupting her. "Happy anniversary, babe," he said.
For whatever reason, she expected him to reach into his pocket and pull out his annual token of love. He didn't, so she grabbed the wrapped present from the empty chair beside her and handed it over to him. "This gift is the one thing that means more to me than anything else in the whole world," she told him, her eyes swelling more.
While the pianist filled the room with a nostalgic melody, Mac tore through the wrapping. In one magical moment, he reached the prize. It was a framed photo of them and the kids — Jillian, Bella and Brady. "Our family," he gasped.
Before he could react any further, she hurried over to kiss him.
"God, do I love you," he said.
"And I love you too," she said, hugging him tight and ignoring a room full of stares.
"So, I get another fifteen years then?" he asked.
She never answered. Their shared embrace said it all.
After a few moments, he pushed her away to look into her eyes. "You're not going to ask me where your present is?" he asked, smiling.
She half-shrugged. "I hadn't thought about it," she fibbed.
He laughed. "I'll give it to you at home. It was too big to bring here."
"Oh, I bet it was," she said, giggling.
He laughed again, quickly raising his hand to call for the check.
* * *
As they stepped out of the restaurant, Mac stopped short on the sidewalk and turned to face her. "Hey," he whispered.
"Yeah?" she said, stepping into his arms.
"I really love you, you know."
"Do you?" he asked. Her lips parted to reply when he pulled her even closer. "I mean it," he said. "I love you, Jen."
She felt overwhelmed by this genuine display of affection. She knew this proclamation went far beyond the three words they exchanged each day — a nice little habit they'd established from the beginning. This was intended as a confirmation of all they were — and will be forever. It was as though they were young again and he'd professed his love for the first time — sincere and unashamed.
She grabbed his face in both her hands and considered all they'd been through together. They began as any first love — filled with innocence and thrills — before life eventually ushered in reality. Back then, our romance was so intense, burning as brightly as the sun, she thought, and twenty-four hours in a day wasn't nearly enough time to be together. "I know," she told him, "and I love you more today than ever before, more than I have the words to describe." A ball of raw emotion choked her.
He kissed her long and hard. "I do," he said.
"What?" she asked.
"I still do," he repeated with a smile. "After fifteen years, I promise to take you as my wife in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health — all of it. I want you, no, I need you as my wife for the next fifteen years and the rest of my life after that."
She kissed him back, matching his fervent passion for her. "I still do, too," she vowed, feeling like she was being reborn.
When they reached the car, she turned to him. "There's no way you're ever going to top this one," she said, grinning. It was the best memory she'd ever been given. "So, what's the big gift waiting for me at home?"
He winked. "The consummation," he said.
* * *
After gazing at his beautiful wife, Mac looked up and slammed on the brakes. The car in front of them had stopped short. "Jackass!" he barked, his heart racing.
Jen leaned forward in the passenger seat. "I think there's been an accident," she said.
Once the rubbernecker in front of them had inched past the scene — never even considering to stop — Mac slowed to a crawl and surveyed the scene. Two cars had been involved in the wreck. "It looks like it just happened," he told Jen.
She nodded. "I hope everyone's all right."
The windshield of one of the cars had been shattered, half of it now covered in crimson red. That's a lot of blood, he thought, his own blood turning cold. Should I stop? Almost involuntarily, he pulled off to the side of the road. "They need help," he said to his worried wife. And someone really needs to help them, he thought, trying to steel himself to be that someone. His body's fight or flight response, however, pled for him to drive on and avoid the gruesome scene.
As Mac swung open the driver's side door and took one step out of the car, a siren wailed in the distance. Leaning to his right, he peered into the rear-view mirror. Flashing red and blue lights strobed into the dark night behind them. "The cavalry's arrived," he said aloud, more for himself than for Jen.
"Thank God," she said, nodding. "I just hope no one's hurt bad."
As the siren got louder and the flashing lights brighter, Mac glanced at the blood on the windshield one last time. Someone's definitely hurt, he thought. There's nothing worse than a friggin' car accident.CHAPTER 2
Jen sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper, her oversized bouquet of flowers sitting before her in a crystal vase.
Mac entered the room, grunting and pounding on his chest like a silverback gorilla. "Be honest," he said, "last night was amazing, wasn't it?"
Jen dropped the paper and kissed him. "You were an animal, babe. It was the most incredible eight minutes of my life."
Mac grabbed for his chest, pretending he'd just been wounded.
Jen laughed. Goofball.
His eyes drifted off for a moment. "Eight minutes?" he muttered. "I didn't realize it lasted that long." He shrugged. "That's not bad after fifteen years, right?"
Laughing, Jen handed him a cup of coffee. "You know I'm teasing," she whispered, kissing him again. "Last night was amazing. You were very sweet for putting so much thought into it." She gazed at him. "And I'm holding you to that promise."
"Ditto," he said.
"And I really love my treasure box."
Mac smiled. "And I love the framed photo, Jen." He took a sip of coffee before looking at the kitchen clock. "Oh, I need to go pick up the kids from Diane's."
Jen shook her head. "I already talked to her this morning and she's offered to drop them off."
"Really?" he said, shocked. "What time?"
"I told her any time this morning would be fine," Jen said, shrugging.
"Your sister's such a sweetheart," Mac teased. "I never know whether to hug her or throw her into a headlock."
"Be nice, Mac," she said. "If it wasn't for Diane, you wouldn't have had your eight minutes of glory last night."
Mac nodded. "That's true, I guess."
Jen glanced up at the kitchen clock. "I'm going to head upstairs and get showered. We need to start getting ready for Brady's party." Kissing Mac once more, she left for the bedroom.
Mac watched her walk away and smiled. "Mac Anderson," he said to himself, "you are one lucky son-of-a-bitch." As he sipped his coffee, his breathing suddenly became short and quick. He stood, freezing in place. A moment later, he stumbled from being dizzy and grabbed for a kitchen chair to brace himself. He then grabbed for his chest before reaching up to his neck to check his erratic pulse. "What the hell," he gasped, trying to catch his breath. What the hell's happening? he thought, before heading for the bathroom to splash cold water on his face.
* * *
After being dropped off, the kids barged into the living room.
Jillian was the spitting image of her father, with dark hair and eyes. Dressed in her usual baggy clothes — an earth-toned outfit that drew attention away from herself — she looked toward the stairs leading to the bedrooms. "Just keep it down, guys, so Mom and Dad can sleep," she whispered.
"Okay," Brady said, "but I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it down."
While Jillian shook her head, Bella laughed. The three claimed their usual spots on the couch. Jillian picked up the remote control and clicked on the television.
"I don't want to watch this show," Bella complained.
"Leave it on!" Brady yelled. "I like this show."
Bella pushed Brady's shoulder. "Shut your mouth, Brady. Mom and Dad are ..."
Brady pushed her back. "You shut your mouth, Beans!"
"Stop fighting," Jillian warned through gritted teeth, separating them, "and we're going to watch something else." The last thing I need is for Dad to get after me because these two can't shut up.
* * *
Taking a few deep breaths to compose himself, Mac was still in shock when he stepped into the living room.
Excited to see him, the kids immediately ceased their squabble.
"How did it go, Dad?" Bella asked right away. With her mother's chocolate curls and light eyes, this girlie-girl had recently turned eight — an age when pigtails and Barbie dolls had just started to lose their attraction.
"Yeah, was Mom surprised?" Brady squealed.
Pushing aside the terrifying episode, Mac took a seat beside them. "Mom was definitely surprised," he said. "We had a wonderful night. Thank you, guys, for giving us the time."
"I still say you should have cooked her dinner," Jillian teased.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Three Shoeboxes"
Copyright © 2018 Steven Manchester.
Excerpted by permission of Studio Digital CT, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Every once in a while an author comes along who writes novels that are so powerfully compelling, poignant, and thought-provoking, that they pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. For me, that author is Steven Manchester and his latest novel, Three Shoeboxes. Three Shoeboxes is a poignant story about a man struggling with PTSD and the complicated dynamics of family relationships that will simply pull at your emotional heartstrings. Author Steven Manchester weaves a richly descriptive and complex tale that follows Mac Anderson as a traumatic past event that he has repressed for nearly twenty years suddenly comes to the surface when he comes across an auto accident on his way home from celebrating the fifteenth wedding anniversary with his wife Jen. This repressed event triggers a frightening journey down the rabbit hole, and as Mac's world is suddenly turned upside down, the effects of continuous panic/anxiety attacks lead Mac to feeling broken, alone, depressed, and turning to alcohol that ultimately results in him losing his job as an advertising executive, and more importantly his family. Mac's change in behavior results in a charge of domestic abuse and a one-year restraining order. Mac's family also goes through the trauma of having their lives turned upside down, no one is the winner in this difficult situation. Desperate to get his life back, Mac checks himself into an intensive in-house detox rehab treatment center, and while the road is long and hard, he faces his PTSD and alcoholism diagnosis with the hope to reconnect with his three children: Jillian (13), Bella (8), and Brady (7). Mac's journey is filled with life lessons, animosity, unresolved dysfunctional family issues, regrets, acceptance, hope, and an emotional chance to renew the bonds of family. Three shoeboxes filled with hope and unfailing love for his three children leads Mac to a good place where he strives to gets his life back on track. The reader will be easily captivated and drawn into Mac's realistic and heartwrenching journey. The author does a wonderful job of intertwining Mac's traumatic past with the difficulties that he faced throughout his journey. You can't help but get swept away and experience the full gamut of emotions as Mac and his family faces a crossroad in their lives as they struggle with an unresolved dysfunctional family dynamic due to PTSD, while considering the intense and difficult choices of how to deal with their current life issues and the unknown future for their family. Three Shoeboxes is a powerful and compelling story written from the heart. It is a must read that will make you ponder about the effects of mental illness (PTSD), alcoholism, and your own family dynamic. This is the kind of story that will stir your soul, and resonate with you for a very long time.
This book is a story about how lack of communication can destroy a very happy family. It’s a heart rending book at how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can lay dormant for years until an event suddenly triggers it. I thought that I had figured out the source of Mac’s PTSD, but I hadn’t. His life became a complete shamble. He lost his job, his family and himself. Finally, help arrived shortly after he was fired. It was a long process, but Mac was determined to get his life back, especially his relationship with his children. Oh, you want to know about those three shoeboxes? I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to read the book to find out what’s in them. Just know you’re going to need a box of tissues for this book. Once again Steven Manchester has given us another great book. His skills as an author are outstanding. Thank you, Mr. Manchester, for becoming an author. ***Book provided without charge by the author.*** Submitted by sunny island breezes.
Three Shoeboxes, by Steve Manchester is the second book I have read by this author and most definitely won't be the last! In this book, Mac and his wife Jen have just celebrated the most beautiful 15th anniversary dinner at D'Avios Restaurant, a favorite. On the way home, they see a terrible auto accident, luckily the cavalry arrives & they continue home. Shortly after that, Mac thinks he is having a heart attack, but lets it go. The symptoms keep reoccurring with more intensity and more frequently, as Mac gets busier at work & Jen asks for more at home . He doesn't want to "bother" Jen because they are both busy, but if the symptoms get worse he will let her know. Well, he ends up in the ER only to be told he is having a panic attack (and he heard the nurses talking about him being a whimp, not being able to handle pain!) He leaves the ER with prescription & instructions to "talk to someone". Communication is a big key to most everything!! Mac has PTSD which is triggered by the automobile accident he witnessed driving home on their anniversary. I love this story of redemption. It's heartbreaking and we should all be talking about it.
Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite Fifteen years into a marriage with a woman he genuinely loves, Mac Anderson is instantly overcome with crippling anxiety in Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester. With a successful professional life, three children, and with the world on a string, Mac's seemingly perfect life collapses into darkness and spirals out of control when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder rears its devastating head. The reason behind the trigger is revealed with skilled restraint and we watch as a man loses everything – his wife, his children, his money, and his mind. Whether or not he can reclaim all he loves appears to be impossible, but Mac is determined to claw his way back to at least some semblance of his former self on a journey that requires all the strength he no longer possesses. Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester is a beautifully written story of redemption. It's heartbreaking to read as Mac goes into a mode of self-destruction, one which is driven by PTSD unrelated to what most associate the disorder with: military combat. Instead, his affliction is the result of something equally devastating, highlighting a disability that can wreak havoc and cause immense suffering in even an everyday Mac. I loved Manchester's style of writing and believe he has a gift for creating authentic characters that are immediately engaging. The narrative is fantastic and I'd happily recommend this book to anyone looking for an engrossing read into a man's fall from grace and his eventual quest for atonement.This is an easy five stars from me.
In a world filled with emotional pressures and personal expectations, one family will fracture as it precariously teeters on the hidden fault line of P.T.S.D. Steven Manchester’s THREE SHOEBOXES is a heart-wrenching rollercoaster ride that is raw, brutally honest and as painfully tender as a gaping wound. Mac Anderson’s family is strong, dedicated to each other and his marriage is the cornerstone that holds everything meaningful together. He never expected that repressed memories from a horrific event long ago would bring him to his knees just as he has the world in the palm of his hand. As Mac slowly devolves into an insecure, mentally ill shadow of himself, he will lose all that is dear to him, including his three children and his life’s partner. Before he is legally ripped from his family, the depression, anxiety and panic attacks, will weaken Mac enough to alcohol. But the monster within will not be quieted and society will give him no quarter as he struggles to survive one more day, alone and broken. His journey will be long, the battle horrendous, but Mac’s love for his family and hopes to be reunited prove to empower him to take each step forward. Will his family be waiting for him? Will the love they all share be enough? Steven Manchester has taken a compassionate look at PTSD and its victims, while telling a story of faith, hope, love and regaining trust and self-respect. A master storyteller, Mr. Manchester takes us into the heart and soul of one family as it is crushed, founders and is rebuilt anew on a foundation of healing. From start to finish this tale will have readers caught up in the both the worst and best life has to offer. The struggle is real and through the heartfelt words of Steven Manchester, the struggle comes alive and the characters breathe. Powerful reading with a powerful and eye-opening message! I received a complimentary ARC edition from Fiction Studio Books and Steven Manchester!
I've been a huge fan of Steven Manchester's novel since I read my first one. I guess what draws me to continue to read anything he writes is his ability to cut to the core of what we all feel deep down inside ourselves. Those are often places we hope we never have to visit in our lifetime and being exposed to them from a safe place allows us to see things from different perspectives and wonder if we were in the same situation, how might we deal with what the characters face. In his latest novel, Three Shoeboxes, Mac Anderson, is living the dream. He has a successful career as an ad executive, a wonderful home, loving wife, three wonderful children and the support of those in his community. Yet he would never have expected that the one night as he was driving home from an anniversary dinner with his wife, that this would be the catalyst that would change everything and strip it away piece by piece. As he begins to experience what can only be described as panic attacks, Mac refuses to let anyone into what he is dealing with. Perhaps that is that manly pride that as the head of the house, one needs to hold it all together at all times. Even though his wife Jen can clearly see he is dealing with issues, he continues to keep her at bay. As each of these attacks grows more frequent and out of control, Mac finally relents to getting some personal help. Yet even the therapist can seem to grasp the sudden turn around in his life and be able to help him deal with things. So Mac gives up and tries to resolve the issues on his own, becoming more and more hostile, argumentative and even resorting to alcohol to put this attacks to rest. Only it just drives a deeper and widening gap between his family until he loses control one night and from then out out, even is family no longer wants anything to do with him and now he faces the loss of his job, the support of family and friends and now living on the street he faces his demons alone. Is it all lost? Can he find his way back home? Or is he just one bullet shy from ending it all? You'll have to find out by picking up this novel. I received Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester compliments of The Story Plant. This is an emotional story that could face anyone at anytime, and makes us all understand how precious moments are in life and how quickly it can all change. It makes the reader reassess what it the most valuable things in your life and how you might face the challenges Mac faces. Does he have the faith in himself to fight his way back to the man he used to be? I'll let you decide when you pick this one up. For me, again a stellar 5 star novel in my opinion.
A brilliant story of being buried by a PTSD avalanche of emotional mental turmoil and clawing a way out to light again. Three Shoeboxes By Steven Manchester Mac Anderson isn’t & never has been in the military. Yet he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As Three Shoeboxes details beautifully, PTSD can affect anyone. Especially anyone who seemingly has it all. Three Shoeboxes is a story that breaks that misconception that only our military personnel suffer from PTSD. Trauma can happen to anyone. PTSD can happen to anyone. After an amazing 15th anniversary dinner, Mac & his wife Diane pass a bloody car accident on the way home. The next morning as Mac blows up balloons for his son’s birthday party the heart attack mimicking symptoms rear their ugly head. This is just a few snowflakes at the summit that will become Mac’s personal hell. As days begin to pass he loses sleep, the anxiety increases and he finds relief at the bottom of a bottle. Mac lashes out in uncontrollable angry outbursts at his wife, at his children, at his friends & boss. When the metaphorical avalanche fully rumbles down on top of him, he is so entombed by his fractious emotions he won’t admit he needs professional help. That is until everything he holds dear is taken away. Luckily Mac isn’t the type of person to let even the severity of PTSD keep him from his family. The road back home is long and arduous. The only way out is to dig through to the heart of what triggered Mac in the first place, the cause of his PTSD. Steven Manchester writes this story pulling no punches. It truly is emotionally raw. One minute the reader is condemning Mac for his cruelty, then empathizing when the real reason comes out. You could say Mac is on a hero’s journey, one straight through a personal hell of mental illness. This novel lays bare the invisible illness of PTSD. It highlights how society judges and downplays anxiety panic attacks. It shows how a well-intentioned justice system can cause more harm to families when mental illness is the root of the problem. Three Shoeboxes is definitely a “must read”! It is the beginning of a discussion we should all be having. FTC Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this title via Netgalley and The Story Plant Publishing for review purposes only. No other compensation was awarded.
PTSD and family life Mac and Jen are blissfully happily married. They adore their children, Mac's job is going a bit easier and Jen is thinking of going back to work. All is perfect until Mac's panic attacks start. As Mac finds his world crumbling around him, so he turns inwards. Failing to get the help he needs, things continue getting worse. Can Mac conquer these attacks, and win back everything he is losing? This is the first book by this author that I have read. I found the themes - panic attacks, PTSD and knock on effects - disturbing to read about, but certainly involving. It was an eye-opener as to how a traumatic event in someone's past can come back to haunt them with such devastating consequences. 3*s from me, as though a very well written book with strong themes, I found the book a bit too short! I would have liked more detail about treatment and long term outcomes etc. Perhaps I went into the book with incorrect expectations. However, as I found the writing so good, I have already lined up another book by this author to read!
Mac had everything - a beautiful wife, three amazing children, a fantastic job, and a wonderful home. Then one small incident triggers Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not knowing how to deal with his PTSD or even knowing that was his problem, Mac spirals down until his life is out of control and he loses everything, including his family. His struggle back is long and difficult and requires perseverance and patience, which proves to be very difficult for Mac. To help his recovery, he focuses on the love he has for his children. He saves three shoeboxes and inside each he pours the love he has for them. Steven Manchester knows how to touch your heart and your soul. Three Shoeboxes will do just that. Unable to help himself or even to understand what is wrong with him, Mac takes one too many wrong turns. His wife has no choice but to take drastic steps to protect herself and their children. Mac must take equally as drastic steps if he is to recover. As the story masterfully unfolds, you will not be able to put down the novel as it will capture you and not let go. You will find yourself crying with Mac and rejoicing with him as he improves. The steps he takes will tug at your emotions. Another story not to be missed, Steven Manchester and Three Shoeboxes moves to my keeper shelf.
Steven Manchester has the talent to get right to your heart and soul. Three Shoeboxes tells the story of an amazing husband and father, Mac Anderson, who suddenly changes and becomes not so amazing. He is fighting with everyone including himself, lashing out at people for no reason, and seeing trouble where there isn’t any. I love that his wife doesn’t just throw in the towel and call it quits. She wants to work with him, wants to support him, and wants to continue loving him. Until she can’t. She has to make changes in their lives to protect herself and their children. Three Shoeboxes had me in tears, full of hope and thankful for this families strength. Anytime PTSD is brought into a story it becomes a tough story. Steven Manchester has the heart, soul, and understanding to tell the story with gentle care and love. He tells the truth, doesn’t cover it up and make it pretty but yet he keeps in real. There are families that suffer from members that have PTSD every day and this story would give them the help, the support, and knowledge that there is help out. I am adding Three Shoeboxes to my must re-read list.
Another think outside the box kind of story that breaks your heart. I'm at a loss how to describe my feelings for this book. I'll start with a simple question~What's in your shoebox? Don't let this question deceive you in its simplicity because its further from the truth or say the heart of the question. What will the answer be? I'm still working on my answer. How about you?
Jen and Mack are celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary, and it’s clear they are still very much in love. They love their three children as well and Mack knows how to be friend but more important mentor to their growing up. On that special day of celebrating their relationship, they see an accident and Mack’s world spins totally out of control. All of a sudden, he finds his chest tightening, his head aching, and feeling unable to catch a breath, along with sweats and a racing heart. He ignores it initially but when it reoccurs several times, he goes to get help at the hospital. There some insensitive nurses confirm behind the screen that he’s having panic attacks; they treat it like no big deal. But it’s a very big, big deal that continues and even escalates. Mack will eventually get help but not before his personality undergoes a dramatic change borne of fear and he winds up making his wife and children dread to be around him because they fear his drunken and sober rages. Jen realizes she needs to protect her children and so she takes appropriate legal action. Mack is at risk for losing his job. So many losses but Mack finally surrenders and begins the process of healing he so desperately needs through help for his PTSD, alcoholism, and panic attacks. No more about the plot which readers will find very intense. What is remarkable about this brutally honest story is the expression of support and growth evident in the letters that Mack writes to his children, later to his wife, and those of his wife – all written but not sent until the perfect moment. Manchester’s ability to depict the deepest emotions realistically and poignantly is noteworthy. One would like to hope this is a rare account but most of us know it’s not. Whether the cause is war or a horrible event one experiences but represses, PTSD is an all too real, horrific state that can make or break a person unless one receives professional help. Faith is easy until one enters an unbelievable state of hell and the road back or forward is wonderfully presented in this memorable, compassionate account. Highly recommended – read it and pass it on to others. Recognizing the symptoms is half of the healing process. Once again, finely crafted, Steven Manchester!
Steven Manchester does it again! He takes us into the mind of Mac, a Husband, Father, a Man who has everything, or so it seems. One small thing, driving by a bad car accident, changes his life in ways he could never imagine, or it seems, understand. A chilling look into what it feels like to suffer from PTSD. How it effects him, his family, every part of his life. Sad and touching, we watch as his entire life falls to pieces. wishing there was something you could do, and finally, seeing a glimmer of hope. Not an easy read, but one well worth the pain.
Title: Three Shoeboxes Author: Steven Manchester Publisher: The Story Plant Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: Five Review: "Three Shoeboxes" by Steven Manchester My Thoughts... This was quite a story about someone experiencing PTSD. It was quite a emotional read of how this author takes the reader through this experience of what this family endured through these panic attacks. For it had not always been like this...Mac had a sweet wife Jen celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary... with three wonderful children...a perfect world until things quickly change and all hell breaks it all down...life changes so deeply for this family 'as a misunderstanding of something Mac finds at home on the counter and he [Mac] losses it and is charged with domestic assault.' Wow, what had happen to this 'ideal happy life they had once had? What will happen when Mac loses his parental rights? Will he be able to reunite his family? This is definitely one of those reads that you will see from this story one of 'love, sadness, determination, will, anger, hope, love and faith.' Now how will this all come out for Mac? To find out the answers to all of these questions and so much more you will have to pick up "Three Shoeboxes" to find out. Oh, I really liked how the reader is able to understand the title 'Three Shoeboxes' in the way it was so well presented by the end of this extraordinary story. After the read a reader will truly have a lot to ponder over long after the read.
This book really helped the reader see inside the mind of someone experiencing PTSD. In addition, you get a glimpse of life for the family of that individual. While it was not initially obvious what caused the panic attacks, once it comes to light, you understand how this could cause such a stress-related reaction. The author does a great job of allowing you to see and experience the anxiety for all of the family members. I even think I like the fact that the book ends the way it does...and I won't spoil it for you! A lot of issues are covered and dealt with in a reasonable way. I would definitely recommend this book.
"Hope has always been the only escape." I recommend this book for everyone. It will bring you to your knees to say Thank You for all you have, and help you to pursue all you may wish for. Mac has three great children,a wonderful wife, job and home. All is perfect in the world. Then, he begins having personality changes, anxiety and paranoia, nearly destroying himself and his family. When he loses all parental rights, his only thoughts and hopes are that he will one day reunite with his family. Will he get better and be able to resume any semblance of his life with his children? Will they even remember him after so many months? This is a beautiful, novel of love, sadness, anger and love. One not to be forgotten!
Not Fair=prequel to Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester Starts out with the family: Mac and Jen and their three kids. Mac has problems: not only at work but anxiety and addiction to name a few, Jen is also overworked and she needs him to pick up the kids. Jen had just started a new job at the press and he has to take over some of her home duties. He takes the kids to a summer fair and they are all having fun til the son goes missing. He can't keep up with everything and something has to give... Real life is NOT FAIR. Free review copy from the author. Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester Have read other works by the author and have totally enjoyed them so was happy to read a review copy. This one starts out with Jen and Mac celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary one night where he has a lot of surprises for her and her for him. Next day is his sons birthday but on the way home they witnessed a car crash but emergency vehicles had arrived to help them. The family also has 3 kids and they live an ideal family life. Jen wants to go back to work as a journalist as the kids will all be in school in a few weeks time. She gets the job and Mac gets to spend time with his kids on the water. Love the memories of going through NH as my husband and I have travelled the path there. A misunderstanding of something Mac finds at home on the counter and he just losses it and is charged with domestic assault. He ends up in jail and then comits himself as he's also a drunk. Jen holds her own secrets and how she holds the family together and feels the empty spot in her heart with him gone. The doctors are able to find out the real problem to Mac's problems and are able to control them with meds. Now the hardest part-to get to visit with the kids... Such detailed descriptions of events and also medical parts that made me understand a lot more about the symptoms. Couldn't understand why the title of the book is what it is til very end...the whole book was working up for them. Moral of the story is to keep your faith, never give up. Received this review copy from the author and this is my honest opinion.