The Kirkus Review Is In

Robin, Daniel and I have been anxiously awaiting the Kirkus review of our book. It arrived a couple of days ago. It can’t be excerpted or published in any form until after I give the go ahead for Kirkus to put it up on their website. Before I give them that go ahead, I want the book to be ready to buy on Amazon. So, I will share the review here when I can, but it will probably take a few weeks for us to finish up the publishing process. Then, I will have much to say about the Kirkus review.

I will say this…my prediction was that it would be a good, but not great, review. I think I was right. But, I am not objective. I will leave it to you, our readers, to decide for yourselves once you have read the actual finished book and the review. There were some things about the review that were disappointing to me, which I will explain. I’ve been reminding myself that it is one person’s opinion. The most important people…the people who will benefit from Robin’s story, haven’t yet read the book.

After the Kirkus review is published on their website, readers will be able to go and make comments about the book. Obviously, when the book is available on Amazon there will also be the opportunity to write comments. I will ask in advance for anyone who reads the book and likes it, to please go to these sites and express your opinion.

Daniel is working on finishing up the cover. It will be done this weekend sometime. That is the last piece they are waiting for at CreateSpace, the company that is publishing the book for us. I can’t wait to see the final product!

In the meantime, here is another excerpt from Part Two of the book, in Robin’s own words:

My improved spiritual framework was tested in January of 2007, when my dad succumbed to the cancer that had been making his life hell for years. It obviously wasn’t a surprise, but it was traumatic nevertheless. He collapsed at home prior to a doctor’s appointment. My mom came home to take him to the appointment and found him in the bathroom. She called 911, then called me. It was early in the morning, and I’ve always hated early morning phone calls. They are almost never a good thing. I raced over to my parents’ home, where the EMTs were providing CPR to my dad in the living room. It was a chaotic scene, with my parents’ dog shut in a room, barking nonstop, not helping the situation. I followed the ambulance to the hospital. My brother and sister in law soon arrived, and we all sat in a private waiting room at the ER.

It wasn’t very long before a hospital staffer came in and asked us if we had a priest or minister we wanted to contact. That’s when it became real. It hit me that this was probably the end for my dad. They intubated him and he was placed in the ICU. Phone calls were made to extended family members, who gathered in the waiting area outside his room. We took turns visiting him throughout the day, and my mom spent the night in the waiting room.

The next day, my dad’s condition worsened. The doctor told us that he no longer had reflexes, and was not likely to wake up. My mom gathered with my brother and me, and said my dad wouldn’t want to live this way. We agreed, and the decision was made to unhook the breathing tube. Prior to doing this, the extended family members were allowed in a couple at a time to say goodbye. Then they all left, and my immediate family was in the room when they unhooked the tube and my dad soon died. The whole experience was very surreal for me. The emotions were very intense, and at times I dissociated.

Prior to my Meltdown and the work Sharon and I did in terms of shifting my spiritual beliefs, my dad dying would have reinforced my “life sucks and then you die” philosophy. I would have seen it as yet another way in which I was being punished. But instead, when he died I was able to look at it from a bigger picture perspective. I believed that his death was about him, not me. It was his time, for whatever reason. It was part of his plan. This did not minimize my sadness over the loss of him. But I was sad…not suicidal, which showed me how far I had come since my Meltdown.

My dad died at the age of 60, coincidentally on my maternal aunt’s birthday. This same aunt was ill at the time of his funeral, but everyone thought it was bronchitis. She was hospitalized a couple of days after my dad’s funeral, and we were shocked to learn that she had to have immediate surgery due to stage 4 colon cancer. The cancer had traveled to her lungs, which caused the bronchitis-like symptoms. My family was devastated, but she started chemotherapy and we were ready to fight the fight with her. Her breathing worsened though, and she remained in the hospital where her health continued to deteriorate.

We decided as a family that someone should be with her overnight, and I insisted on doing it. Everyone else, besides my grandma, had to work, and I didn’t want her to have to do it. I wasn’t working, so it made the most sense for me to stay overnight with my aunt. I slept in a reclining chair with a blanket, brought into the room by the nurse. I had insomnia anyway, so I wasn’t worried about disturbing my sleep.

One night, my aunt woke up in the middle of the night, struggling to breath and in obvious distress, so I alerted the nurse. The on-call doctor, who was a jerk, came in and said her breathing had deteriorated to the point where she needed to make the decision whether to go on a breathing tube, or just “be made comfortable.” My aunt looked at me desperately, unsure what she should do, at which point the doctor snapped at her “Don’t look at her, you need to decide.” As I said, he was a jerk.

The doctor was basically telling her she had to decide between giving up or continuing to fight with no promise that it would do any good. She chose to be intubated, and was taken to the ICU. It was about 4:00 a.m. by this point, and I immediately called my mom, who then called the rest of the family who all came to the hospital. The nurse allowed us to go into the ICU room in bunches, even though policy allowed only two at a time. My aunt’s condition worsened due to complications with her meds, and her blood sugar dropped considerably. She was miserable, and quite obviously dying.

Later that day my aunt finally made the decision to have the medications that were controlling her symptoms stopped, which made the jerk doctor angry, but he complied. We all crowded into the room to say our goodbyes to my aunt, and she died a little later, coincidentally on my other aunt’s birthday. The whole situation was very agonizing, and brought up feelings about my dad’s death three weeks earlier. I lost two very close family members within a month, in very traumatic situations.

The fact that I was the one from my family to stay with my aunt overnight, only three weeks after my dad’s death, was a sign of how much progress I had made in treatment. I think I was still in shock about my dad, but I felt clear I needed to be the one to be there for my aunt. I just kept thinking about my belief that she would be going to heaven. The fact that I was able to do what I did during that time, without becoming overwhelmed, depressed or suicidal, helped me to gain some confidence. It made me feel better in a way, because I was able to be helpful and I suddenly felt like I had a purpose for the first time in a long time.

Before my Meltdown this whole traumatic time would have been completely overwhelming to me, and I would not have wanted to be any part of it. I hated hospitals and I would likely have had difficulty even going to visit my dad or my aunt. It would have just reinforced my whole negative belief system. It was a clear sign of progress that I was able to hold up through the crises.

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About Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D.

Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D. completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Purdue University. She spent ten years doing full-time clinical practice at a community mental health center with primarily adults. She then spent eight years working as an administrator at that same community mental health center while continuing to maintain a small caseload of therapy clients. She now provides clinical services in long-term care facilities in addition to writing and spending as much time as possible with the people she loves.
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7 Responses to The Kirkus Review Is In

  1. Dawn D says:

    Good luck with the final stages of getting the book published!
    XO

  2. dyane says:

    I’m finally catching up with my blogs, Sharon. Please forgive the late comment. It has been one of “those” weeks.

    The very word “Kirkus” makes me nervous – some of these reviewers can hold a lot of power and sometimes be pretentious and plain-old-wrong! 😱My husband’s publisher University of Oklahoma Press didn’t want to pay for the review w/Kirkus. Craig said he and his co-author could have done it themselves if they wanted, but they didn’t because the publisher sent the book out to a ton of journals and it did well.

    That said, I admire you so much for doing it, and I look forward to reading more about it when you can reveal the review. You’re absolutely right that it is just one person who wrote it, and as you emphasized, the most important people haven’t read the book yet.
    I’m very proud of you! 👍

    • Dyane–I so appreciate all of your support. I knew we needed to get the Kirkus review, mostly because we have been in a vacuum and needed feedback from someone objective and professional. We have never written a book before and don’t have a publisher, so I thought Kirkus would be helpful. What I learned is that I should have searched their website for books on “mental illness” ahead of time…although I probably would have sent it anyway. There are very few books on this topic and I have to wonder if the reviewer had any experience or knowledge about bipolar disorder and OCD, which are Robin’s main issues. I think you’ll understand when you read the review. I look forward to your thoughts. Your opinions and your ongoing support mean so much to me!!

      • dyane says:

        Awww, thanks so much Sharon. What a great reply to wake up to on this cold, dark, bleak morning.

        I would think that a Kirkus review would be helpful too! As an avid reader, I’ve always spotted the reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly and, I think, Library Journal and I thought they were the holy grail in terms of reviews, but now I feel way differently about them. If the Kirkus reviewer you had for your book didn’t have experience with bipolar/OCD, then it’s not fair to your book, really. Not at all.

        I guess you can’t handpick the reviewer, but still….it seems like their system needs to be overhauled. I’ll let you know what I think, of course. In the meantime, remember it’s just one review – it really is.You’ll get reviews that make your heart sing.
        Lots of hugs to you, and once again, I’m super-proud of your persevereance in making this book a reality. It is incredibly hard!!!! Anyone who says it isn’t is lying or in deep denial! 😜

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