Book Reviews by Alexis
I plan to focus on novels that portray characters with a mental illness- but I will include other popular fiction from time to time!
Review of The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelides
I was drawn in by The Silent Patient’s cover and was hooked from page one. Michaelides’s best-selling thriller is tightly plotted and I didn’t want to put it down. The red herrings throughout the novel are well-crafted and reminiscent of the clever ways that Agatha Christie incorporated them into her mysteries. Alicia- my favorite character- was a complex, well-developed character, written with the perfect balance of intrigue. I also loved how the reader was given the opportunity to connect with Alicia through reading her diary.
As a mental health advocate, I appreciated the natural way Michaelide’s wove relevant issues with mental health care- budget cuts, lack compassion amongst some therapists/psychiatrists, transference/countertransference- into the story. The author’s background in psychology and empathy for those suffering from a mental illness resonated with me. (I didn’t look him up until after I’d finished the book).
My only bone of contention lies with how borderline personality disorder comes across to the reader. The phrase Borderline are seductive is repeated two (or three) times throughout the novel. I wish that this statement- along with some of the other criteria for BPD- would’ve been elaborated upon and explained in greater detail. I picked up on many of the subtle inferences about Alicia’s symptoms (and I’m assuming others with BPD did as well). Though readers with limited knowledge psychiatric disorders may draw inaccurate conclusions or misunderstand the complexities of personality disorders.
Borderline personality disorder is often misrepresented in pop culture. Without concrete explanations of the thinking patterns behind particular behaviors, many people walk away with the impression that bordelines are manipulative temptresses and prone to extreme psychosis. I look forward to seeing the movie, but I fear that version lends itself to portraying borderlines as bat-shit crazy or the stereotypical jealous girlfriend/wife.
To the author’s credit, Michaelides does provide well-crafted insight into the creative side(s) of BPD. Also, he doesn’t attribute all the character’s actions to one condition, as he reveals events in the past which influenced their motivations. (I won’t be specific, as I loathe spoilers)!
Overall, I was impressed with the plot twists and found The Silent Patient a compelling read.