Tanya J. Peterson Gives Us a Compassionate Look at Mental Health in Her Debut Fiction, Leave of Absence

9781592998838 cov.inddMay is Mental Health Awareness Month, but mental health awareness is still such a societal struggle–there is still a battle being waged to break down barriers–so when a book comes along such as Leave of Absence by Tanya J. Peterson, I become hopeful that it can carry a message about mental illness beyond any certain month, but throughout the year, for many years to come!

After reading Leave of Absence, I believe that this book is so complete in its portrayal, so accurate and endearing, that it could possibly be a catalyst of modern literature that brings the true mental dilemma of human nature to light.  Peterson understands the mental illness in her characters. Instead of giving a dramatic portrayal of characters, such as what you sometimes see in the movies, Peterson shows the struggles and emotions her characters, especially co-protagonists Oliver and Penelope, go through in their minds. She paints a vivid and clear picture of their thoughts and desires. She showcases the internal angst that people like Penelope, who are diagnosed with schizophrenia, deal with just to keep facing the day, every day. She makes us aware of the fact that not only do they have to battle their unwanted internal struggles, but they also have to face the guilt they feel for what they think they do to their family and friends.

Leave of Absence was a book more centered on character development than plot, as we began to feel connected to Oliver, Penelope, and even William, Penelope’s fiance, which is what really needed to happen for us to be focused on the message Peterson was writing. I felt Peterson’s portrayal of William, with his steadfast, understanding, patient, and unconditional love for Penelope even when she felt she did not deserve it, was so compassionate and touching. I know many people with mental issues who have felt that they were, or are, a burden to their loved ones and I was happy to see Peterson take this angle.

Even though some parts of Penelope’s schizophrenia were humorous, such as Peterson’s portrayal of the voice in Penelope’s head as a dictating Eleanor Roosevelt (Mrs. Peterson–Eleanor was such a strong supporter of women’s rights and by the way, I’m related!! LOL), I felt that overall as a reader I grew to love her. Penelope’s creative and caring mind was so touching. Which I hope, overall, might be the message.

I suppose you can probably tell by now that I grew most connected to Penelope, even though it is Oliver we first encounter jumping off a building and going into the behavioral health unit. Oliver becomes a die-hard friend and support system to Penelope and I loved as their relationship unfolded. If it wasn’t for William, I would have loved to see Oliver and Penelope become a couple and for that to help Oliver overcome the loss of his wife. But instead it did show a wonderful platonic friendship, which are also so valuable in the healing process for so many with depression and mental illness.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary reads that shine light on the nuances of human nature, but I also recommend this book for caregivers, family and friends of those struggling with mental illness in hopes that it would help them to find more compassion and understanding. The book is also a wonderful piece for those studying sociology, social work, or psychology.

See the Video Trailer Here:

 Leave of Absence, Synopsis~

9781592998838 cov.indd“Oliver knew deep in his heart that he would never, ever be better.” In this insightful and evocative novel, Tanya J. Peterson delves deeply into the world of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.

When Oliver Graham’s suicide attempt fails, he is admitted to Airhaven Behavioral Health Center. Unable to cope with the traumatic loss of his beloved wife and son, he finds a single thread of attachment to life in Penelope, a fellow patient wrestling with schizophrenia and its devastating impact on her once happy and successful life. They both struggle to discover a reason to live while Penelope’s fiancé William strives to convince her that she is worth loving. As Oliver and Penelope try to achieve emotional stability, face others who have been part of their lives, and function in the “real world,” they discover that human connection may be reason enough to go on.

Written with extraordinary perception into the thought processes of those grappling with mental illness, Leave of Absence is perfect for readers seeking an empathic depiction of grief, loss, and schizophrenia, as well as anyone who has ever experienced human suffering and healing.

ISBN-13: 978-1-59299-883-8 | ISBN 10: 1-59299-883-6
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Inkwater Press
Retail Price: $17.95 (paperback); $2.99 (e-Book)
Available at: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com, iTunes Bookstore, Kobo.com, and Inkwater Books.

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You can read the guest post that Tanya J. Peterson did with me about why she wrote the novel and why women need to take time for their dreams, by clicking HERE! Stay tuned next week for our exclusive interview!

See more stops on her tour at:  http://tanyajpeterson.com/virtual-book-tour/

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Author Tanya J. Peterson, Biography~

Tanya PetersonTanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor.  She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities.  She draws on her life experience as well as her education to write stories about the emotional aspect of the human condition.  She has published Losing Elizabeth, a young adult novel about an abusive relationship, Challenge!, a short story about a person who finds the confidence to overcome criticism and achieve a goal, and a book review of Linley and Joseph’s Positive Therapy: A Meta-Theory for Positive Psychological Practice that appeared in Counseling Today, the national publication of the American Counseling Association. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children.

See Tanya’s great website at:  http://tanyajpeterson.com/

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6 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

6 responses to “Tanya J. Peterson Gives Us a Compassionate Look at Mental Health in Her Debut Fiction, Leave of Absence

  1. Hello, Erin and others visiting Erin’s wonderful blog! Thank you so much for your thoughtful review of Leave of Absence! I’m always so nervous to read a review because I have no idea what the reviewer is going to say in reaction to the novel. I can’t begin to express how deeply your words have touched me. You captured what I hoped to achieve with Leave of Absence. I wrote it to help correct stereotypes and create understanding and compassion. Thank you for writing this review to show others what you think of it. Thanks, too, for letting me talk about all this in the guest post. I’m looking forward to our interview, too! Have a wonderful day. You’ve certainly made mind!

    Like

  2. Nicole

    I am adding this book to my to-read list! As someone that has struggled with mental illness for many years, it is always nice to see a book that raises awareness of the issue.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Interview with Leave of Absence Author Tanya J. Peterson on her Life, Her Book, and Mental Health Awareness | Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

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