Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder

Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder

by Karen Winters Schwartz
4.9 20


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Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder by Karen Winters Schwartz

As eighteen-year-old Amanda spirals into mania, her father, psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Benson, sees the realization of his worst fears: his daughter is not just moody, but truly ill. With his words, his diagnosis—manic depressive illness—his world and that of his family is forever altered. Carol, Amanda's mother, struggles with the guilt and shame of having raised a "crazy" daughter. Christy, Amanda's fifteen-year-old sister, denies the illness; after all,my sister's a bitchis so much easier to accept.

Meanwhile, the Bensons' extended family offers up everything from unconditional support to uncomfortable scrutiny as Amanda careens between bouts of frightening violence, cosmic euphoria, and suicidal despair. Then there's Ryan, an architecture student who is initially ensnared by Amanda's manic sexuality, but is ultimately captured and held throughout the chaos by the force of love and strength of family.

Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorderfollows a family through the tragedy of bipolar disorder, but it's not tragic. It's funny, sad, and thought provoking—and as real and as raw as mental illness itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780979875564
Publisher: Goodman Beck Publishing
Publication date: 10/15/2010
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 399,337
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 16 Years

About the Author

Karen Winters Schwartz was born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio. She wrote her first truly good story at age seven. Her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Schneider, publicly and falsely accused her of plagiarism. She did not write again for forty years.

Educated at The Ohio State University, both Karen and her husband have shared a career in optometry in Central New York's Finger Lakes while raising two daughters together.

Karen is the president of NAMI Syracuse (National Alliance on Mental Illness), a strong advocate for mental illness awareness, and a sought-after speaker at health association events and conferences across the country. Karen knows firsthand the devastation that mental illness can wreak on a family. She has talked to hundreds of families who have dealt with the frustration of a broken mental health care system. She has experienced the price of stigma and has felt the isolation that ignorance, misunderstanding, and judgment can inflict on everyone involved. She knows how these misconceptions delay and thwart necessary treatment—at its best leading to loss of jobs, productivity, and relationships, at its worst leading to tragedies such as suicide, violence, and mass murder. She has also experienced the joy of the recovery of a loved one, stressing early detection and treatment as the key to this success.

Her critically acclaimed debut novel on mental illness, Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family’s Journey Through Bipolar Disorder, was released by Goodman Beck Publishing in September 2010. Its widely praised follow-up, Reis’s Pieces: Love, Loss, and Schizophrenia, was released in the spring of 2012, and her third novel, The Chocolate Debacle, was released in the fall of 2014. Her books are not only honest and engaging stories—they are also advocacy tools, educational tools, and a comfort to those dealing directly and indirectly with mental illness.

Through her books Karen opens up discussions about the need for empathy and the impact of the negative stigma associated with these neurobiological brain disorders. Through literature, she educates while entertaining, elicits empathy while telling a great story, and advocates by reaching those who just don’t “get it.”

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Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one that you don't want to put down till you're finished and even then you wish there were more. A great story with charming characters. Breakthrough in that it deals with a topic that so many are afraid to talk about - bipolar disorder.
Ripster More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down. This is one of the books that you must read...and read now. Riviting and believeable.
JaneSW More than 1 year ago
Characters very real, story raw, scary, and humourous, a great read. Taught me much about the desease of bipolar while entertaining me, I saw the familie's experiences from many angles, helped me to understand what folks are going through.
DrLKBurke More than 1 year ago
As a Clinical Psychologist, I have eagerly awaited the release of this novel, and I can assure you that it does not disappoint. The story provides a non-stop read which offers truth, insight, and hope regarding the many challenges of coping with Bipolar Disorder, not only for the individual diagnosed, but for her loved ones. I look forward to many more creations from this engaging author!
kweiss More than 1 year ago
From the very first page of Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? the reader is drawn into the folds of this family; and once there, you really just don't want to leave. Funny, sad; this novel depicts the ties that bind. In spite of its subject matter - bipolar disorder - this story is ultimately about love and of family. Pick up this book; you won't be able to put it back down. Although I was glad as I read the final words at one o'clock in the morning that the book was only 270 pages long, when I awoke, I was missing the Benson family and longing for more!
ApexReviews More than 1 year ago
After receiving a heartbreaking diagnosis as being manic depressive, eighteen-year-old Amanda Benson's life soon begins to spin wildly out of control. As her thoughts, words, and deeds swing violently between euphoric highs and abysmal lows, her family struggles to embrace her worsening condition while simultaneously coming to grips with the unpredictable new reality they all face. Further adding to the complications: the unwitting Ryan, Amanda's love interest who soon becomes inextricably ensnared in her and her family's tortuous world. Together, they're forced to learn how to support, empower, and embolden one another as all sense of normalcy as they once knew it is forever changed... Where Are The Cocoa Puffs? is a strikingly eye-opening read. Even though it's a fictional account, author Karen Schwartz's vivid tale paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis, highlighting the incredible strain that mental illness can place on even the tightest of bonds. Given the difficulty of her plight, Amanda serves as quite the sympathetic protagonist, but as the tale unfolds Schwartz does a commendable job of displaying the very personal ways in which her illness affects everyone; as such, anyone who's ever wondered what it would be like to experience the emotional roller coaster of mental illness will find a sterling example in Where Are The Cocoa Puffs? A thought-provoking account of just how fragile even the strongest of family ties can often be. Karynda Lewis Apex Reviews
Theedg More than 1 year ago
A first novel? This is better than 'The Notebook'. Karen Winters Schwartz is a terrific story teller. Don't pass it by.
kkfairy More than 1 year ago
This book takes the reader through the labyrinth of emotions that is associated with having a family member that is suffering with a mental illness. A must read for mental health professionals and anyone that care about or works with persons with a mental illness. The characters are portrayed brilliantly - should be a movie!
DMG80 More than 1 year ago
Simply put, the kind of read where you're drawn into the characters' lives and almost feel estrangement and alienation once you're done reading, still wanting a window--a vein, a pulse--into their lives.
VanaLJ More than 1 year ago
I am not a voracious reader, yet, I devoured this book in two sittings. An interesting and insightful look into a world I had little understanding of. It's the kind of book you hope there is a sequel to, so you can find out how the rest of the character's lives play out.
Jenny12JW More than 1 year ago
I laughed and cried and cared for the characters right away, especially for the mother and her struggles. This book does more than simply entertain; it makes one more grateful for mental health and more compassionate and understanding towards those and their families, friends and loved ones who suffer from mental illness.
Ginnah More than 1 year ago
What would it like to be part of a family when one of its members, an eighteen year old, Amanda, begins to exhibit wild mood swings that are finally diagnosed as a bipolar disorder? By entering the interiors of the young woman's mother, father, sister, boyfriend, and Amanda, Karen Winters Schwartz's novel, Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?, takes the reader on that roller coaster with insight and sympathy for all. Spending time with this family will be a comfort to those who have had similar experiences and it will deepen the compassion of those who haven't. The novel accurately portrays the complexities and strain of living with someone who has a mental illness, but it also offers hope as a result of the medical world's increasing understanding of biochemical imbalances in the brain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this novel to be very insightful into the modern day family with teenagers. The big "dip" on the roller coaster happens to be bipolar disorder but the novel addresses the deeper issues of conflicts found within a family. It is a novel with substance and Karen's prose is a delight to read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for EVERYONE. After reading I have such a better understanding of mental illness, but also of one of my bestfriends lives, as this was her story also. Great read.
Donna13 More than 1 year ago
I have a nephew that has this disease and this book was so similar to what our family has been through. It is a tough road.
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