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Next to Normal

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A booklist for: next to normal

Production dates: March 20-29, 2015

This is a booklist created by Gere Branch library staff to accompany the stage production of next to normal at Gere’s neighbor, The Lincoln Community Playhouse.

next to normal is a 2008 American rock musical with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt. The story centers around a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effects that her illness and its management have had on her family. The musical also addresses the issues of grief, suicide, drug abuse, ethics in modern psychiatry, and the underbelly of suburban life. It opened Off Broadway in 2008, then premiered on Broadway in 2009. It was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, winning for Best Score, Best Orchestration, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress (for Alice Ripley). next to normal also won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the eighth musical in history to win that prestigious award.

Reading Recommendations for readers interested in Next to Normal

With or Without You
by Domenica Ruta [Biography Ruta]

Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving town north of Boston, in a trash-filled house on a dead-end road surrounded by a river and a salt marsh. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious local figure, was a drug addict and sometimes dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Despite the fact that there was not a book to be found in her household, Domenica developed a love of reading, which helped her believe that she could transcend this life of undying grudges, self-inflicted misfortune, and the crooked moral code that Kathi and her cohorts lived by.


Scattershot: My Bipolar Family
by David Lovelace [616.895 Lov]

Four out of the five people in poet David Lovelace’s immediate family have experienced bipolar disorder—including David himself. His relationship with the disease began with his artist mother’s severe depressions during his boyhood in the 1960s and continued through decades of his preacher father’s increasingly eccentric behavior. The family’s battle with the disorder reached its apex in 1986, the year that his father, his brother, and David himself were all committed in quick succession. Only his sister has escaped unscathed. Scattershot is Lovelace’s poignant, humorous, and vivid account of the disease’s effects on his family, and his gripping exploits as he spent his life running from—and finally learning to embrace—the madness imprinted on his genes.


 width=Rolling Away: My Agony With Ecstasy
by Lynn Marie Smith [362.293 Smi]

Lynn Smith never wanted to be an addict. A popular straight-A student from small-town Pennsylvania, she moved to New York City to pursue her dream of acting. In the city, she came in contact with new people, new ideas, and a completely new way of life — a way that exposed her to drugs. She tried pot, acid, and cocaine, but it was the “love drug” Ecstasy that won her heart. Rolling Away is the story of Lynn’s frenzied flight into addiction and her long struggle to come back down to earth. At once harrowing and inspiring, Rolling Away is a triumphant narrative about sex, drugs, and rock-bottom survival — and how a second chance can save your life.


Hooked: Five Addicts Challenge our Misguided Drug Rehab System
by Lonny Shavelson [362.29 Sha]

Deeply felt, deftly rendered, stunningly informative and often enraging, Hooked appears as we are finally waking up to the inadequacies of our current drug-rehab policies. With court-mandated rehab being debated across the country, Shavelson’s in-depth look at the struggles of five addicts as they travel through the treatment maze makes a powerful case for reform.


An Unquiet Mind
by Kay Redfield Jamison [616.895 Jam]

Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; she has also experienced it firsthand. For even while she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide.


The Center of Winter
by Marya Hornbacher [Hornbacher]

The luminous first novel by Marya Hornbacher, the acclaimed author of Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, is a moving and passionate story of a death from despair — and a stricken family’s passage through grief toward the hope, solace, and understanding that waits for them somewhere beyond the center of winter.


Hold Still
by Nina LaCour [YA LaCour]

In the wake of her best friend Ingrid’s suicide, Caitlin is left alone, struggling to find hope and answers. When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind for her, she begins a journey of understanding and broadening her horizons that leads her to new friendships and first love. Nina LaCour brings the changing seasons of Caitlin’s first year without Ingrid to life with emotion, honesty, and captivating writing.


Madness: A Bipolar Life
by Marya Hornbacher [Biography Hornbacher]

When Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted, she did not yet know the reason for her all-but-shattered young life. At age 24, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type 1 rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disease there is. Here, in her trademark wry, self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. She takes us inside her own desperate attempts to control violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage, is at the heart of this brave memoir.


Letters to a Young Madman: A Memoir
by Paul Gruchow [Biography Gruchow]

Paul Gruchow’s work is widely viewed as a rich and enduring contribution to American letters, and particularly to writing about the natural world. Less well known is the fact Gruchow spent nearly his entire adult life trying to overcome the depression that eventually resulted in his death. Over the course of his illness, competing diagnoses as bipolar and paranoid schizophrenic led to a plethora of treatments and stays at institutions. As he grew increasingly frustrated by the mental health system, Gruchow began to capture his experiences in short, highly concentrated pieces of prose. Collected in this volume shortly before his death, they weave a portrait of a man struggling to come to terms with his own thoughts and emotions.


The Price of Silence: A Mom’s Perspective on Mental Illness
by Lisa Long [362.2 Lon]

Liza Long is the single mother of a child with an undiagnosed mental disorder. When she heard about the Newtown shooting her first thought was, ‘What if my son does that someday?’ She wrote an emotional response to the tragedy, which the Boise State University online journal posted as ‘I am Adam Lanza’s mother.’ The post went viral, receiving 1.2 million Facebook likes, nearly 17,000 tweets, and 30,000 emails. Now she takes a look at how we address mental illness, especially in children who are funneled through a system of education, mental healthcare, and juvenile detention that leads far too often to prison.


Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey to Survive Bipoloar, a Mother’s Struggle to Save Her
by Linea Johnson & Cinda Johnson [Biography Johnson]

The Johnsons were a close and loving family living in the Seattle area – two parents, two incomes, two bright and accomplished daughters. They led busy lives filled with music lessons, college preparation, career demands, and laughter around the dinner table. Then the younger daughter, Linea, started experiencing crippling bouts of suicidal depression. Multiple trips to the psych ward resulted in a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and it took many trial runs of drugs and ultimately electroshock therapy to bring Linea back. But her family never gave up on her. And Linea never stopped trying to find her way back to them.


Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipoloar Life
by Melody Moezzi [Biography Moezzi]

With candor and humor, a manic-depressive Iranian-American Muslim woman chronicles her experiences with both clinical and cultural bipolarity. Melody Moezzi was born to Persian parents at the height of the Islamic Revolution and raised amid a vibrant, loving, and gossipy Iranian diaspora in the American heartland. When at eighteen, she began battling a severe physical illness, her community stepped up, filling her hospital rooms with roses, lilies, and hyacinths. But when she attempted suicide and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there were no flowers. Despite several stays in psychiatric hospitals, bombarded with tranquilizers, mood-stabilizers, and antipsychotics, she was encouraged to keep her illness a secret—by both her family and an increasingly callous and indifferent medical establishment. Refusing to be ashamed, Moezzi became an outspoken advocate, determined to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and reclaim her life along the way. Both an irreverent memoir and a rousing call to action, Haldol and Hyacinths is the moving story of a woman who refused to become torn across cultural and social lines.


Created in partnership with the Lincoln Community Playhouse by ka/Gere Branch March 2015 | Modified for use on BookGuide by sdc/bmpl