(reviewed by Renée Kay)
Greyson Todd, a very successful studio executive, suffers from bipolar disorder. Todd detested his own father whose manic episodes created tremendous chaos both financially and emotionally for the family. On the other hand, he adored his mother who had to tolerate this life.
In spite of his childhood he goes to Stanford, becomes an agent, and then a studio executive. However the daily pressures overwhelm him and he recognizes that he can’t continue the facade of a normal life any longer. One night he literally abandons his wife, Ellen and daughter, Willa. This is the story of his journey to relinquish control to the disease while at the same time trying to control it.
Todd spends a decade on a thrill-seeking jaunt around the world experiencing many outrageous things, engaging in precarious sexual situations and taking other risks that at times seemed unbelievable. The level of chaos at times made me feel physically anxious which is where I think the author succeeded in depicting what life with bipolar disorder could feel like.
Most of the time he isn’t a very likable character, having little regard for others (obviously somewhat a result of the disease) but somehow author Juliann Garey provides some very funny (but very dark) moments.
I also like the way the story is told-in flashbacks or in pieces–so the reader has to figure it out, even to a certain extent the way the bipolar person feels. Garey makes us feel compassion for a disease that looks scary and uncomfortable.
Part of this book’s great appeal is the reader not being sure how it will end…will he die, will he become a functioning person, can he pull his family back together? The readers feel like they’re taking this journey with him because Garey tells the story so vividly and we’re never sure how it will untangle.
If you appreciate stories that take you on a very human journey then Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See may just be the book for you.