This is a story about love…
‘You are a song inside me now, a melody that stirs and bursts into life when I think of you.’
In this heart-breaking, thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting memoir, Gill Mann remembers life with her son Sam – a boy and young man who enchanted and infuriated in equal measure. Sam saw colours where others saw grey. He made people feel alive. His unvanquishable spirit sings out as Gill reflects on the joys he brought, the difficulties of his struggles with schizophrenia, and the impact of his death.
Part journal, part journey into the past, and part conversation with Sam, in this beautifully written memoir, Gill thoughtfully and tenderly reveals her relationship with her son, both before and after his death. A Song Inside explores universal issues of love and loss to reveal how we can move forward and find happiness again, without leaving behind the people we have lost.
One of the challenges of reviewing memoirs, especially ones such as A Song Inside, is that it just seems so inappropriate to judge a book about someone’s life experience of losing a child. However, I hope to do Mann justice in my thoughts and opinions.
A Song Inside is almost like Mann’s diary of the days, weeks, and months following her son Sam’s death. But interspersed with these diary entries are letters to Sam where we learn about his birth, childhood, and into his teenage years and early adulthood.
Mann’s storytelling and perspective are beautifully candid and raw. She is completely honest with the reader about her feelings, including the thoughts that she has that people would typically keep to themselves, acknowledging that we all have them (even if we like to pretend that we do not).
What I particularly loved about this book is the way Mann conveys emotion. Grief is clearly a prominent feature, and although I am firmly in the belief that I still have no understanding of the depth of her emotions, I at least could walk with her through the ups and downs. I also felt her frustration, anger, love, and need for answers.
“I don’t expect time to heal, if healing means the sealing over of this dreadful wound, but I know it will lessen the pain and that I will learn to welcome the relentlessness of its passage. It keeps me connected to life, even if part of me resists it.”
My other main take away from this book is a far better understanding of schizophrenia and what it is for someone to have schizophrenia. I had no idea, for example, that someone can have absolutely no recognition of their illness whatsoever, making it extremely difficult to get community help, as was the case with Sam.
A Song Inside is wonderfully written and highly absorbing. Mann quite clearly has a talent for writing and I highly recommend this stunning memoir.
Many thanks to Retreat West for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
You can support your local bookshop by buying A Song Inside through them directly, or via Hive.
What do you think of A Song Inside? Will you be reading it? Let me know in the comments below.
Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,