Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Necessary Madness"

I recently finished "Necessary Madness" by Jenn Crowell and I must say that I found it a fascinating book. I was a bit reluctant at first because it sounded a bit... contrived?? The book jacket reads: "After a scant eight years of marriage, Gloria's beloved husband succumbs to leukemia, leaving her alone with a son to bring up in an adopted country. The madness of grief is constant..." I admit is was the fact that it was in an "adopted country" that made me feel alright about reading this one. I like to learn about different cultures than my own. The rest of it sounded melodramatic and predictable.

And in a way it was predictable. Somehow you know Gloria is going to get through this or the book wouldn't be written. It was her "necessary madness" that captured me though. So often in life we don't give expression to the madness that threatens to engulf our lives. It's almost unacceptable to let people, or even ourselves, see us suffer. To give ourselves over to the grief we feel so desperately at times in our lives is weakness, right? I mean, if we have a good cry session doesn't that mean that we have no control anymore?

We don't want to experience the pain, we only want the good things. But sometimes that madness, that grief, is a necessary step in the healing process. Sometimes we have to admit it to ourselves and let the pain, sorrow, and heartache take over so that we can get through it completely. I know that I am quite guilty of putting "band-aids" over wounds that require more attention that a little cover up. It goes deeper inside the flesh and needs to be cleansed completely in order for it to heal.

"Necessary Madness" is beautifully written and filled with grief and hope. I found myself on the verge of tears during moments of tenderness and pain and rejoicing in the small steps that were taken to get Gloria's life back on solid ground. Should you choose to read it though, I must inform that it is set in London and certain "cuss words" are more prevalent than others. So beware. It was a good read though.


  1. Seriously. This has been one of my favorite books for about 10 years. I LOVE it and have read it at least a dozen times. I don't know ANYONE else who has ever read it!

    She has a second book called Letting The Body Lead that isn't as good, but I had really high expectations.

  2. And, oh yeah. She was a 17 year old high school student from...Ohio? Pennsylvania? when she wrote this. That I found the most fascinating of all.

  3. Wow! I had no idea. She's very insightful for one so young! really enjoyed it. I actually got it off of your goodreads list!