Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother’s closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.
In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie’s well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack’s humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie’s mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.
Now that Emily’s mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple’s fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?
I received this book from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
An honest, bittersweet story that keeps you on the edge as you bear witness to the destructive path that mental illness can carve into a family’s past, present and future. Finding Libbie, by Deanna Lynn Sletten, is emotional and captivating.
Jack Prentice loved Libbie for what felt like his entire life. When he married his dream girl he had no idea that their dream would quickly turn into a nightmare. He doesn’t understand what is happening to Libbie and can only stand by helplessly as she travels down a road he can’t drive. The guilt is eating him alive. He is Libbie’s husband, he promised her father that he would love and protect her but how can he protect her from herself?
Libbie is your typical young beauty in a small town. She’s smart, fearless and falls for Jack after the perfect summer of friends, sun and love. It isn’t until she’s planning her wedding and facing the possibility that Jack could be drafted, that she has her first battle with depression. She doesn’t know it at the time, of course. What experience does she have with it? It’s just her nerves, and her doctor has given her valium to help with her “sensitive nature.” Once she knows Jack is safe and the wedding is over then she’ll feel better but what if she doesn’t?
By far, one of the most beautiful books I’ve read. Maybe it’s due to my personal experiences with mental illness but I felt Jack’s helplessness as I read further and further into the book. Libbie’s symptoms are so classic in modern times that it makes you anxious, then angry that she isn’t being treated for mental illness. My heart hurt just as bad for Libbie, what it must be like to have no control over your own mind.
What was happening to them was so very sad yet inevitable, given the times. Two young people trying to build a life with neither able to prevent the stop or prevent the illness that will test and possibly destroy them.
As odd as it sounds, I really enjoyed reading this book. The author was objective throughout and never made you feel like you were choosing sides. It wasn’t Jack against Libbie, it was Jack and Libbie against the unknown. The gritty nature of mental illness is very real and Deanna wrote it very true to life. Mental illness doesn’t just effect the person dealing with it, it affects everyone around that person.
I felt raw in the days after I finished the novel. It definitely hit home for me but not in a negative way. It helped to remind me that mental illness is so common. Yet, despite how common it is, we still have such a stigma and taboo surrounding illness of the mind. It doesn’t really feel like we’ve made progress in that aspect.
This is not a light read by any means. It will not be a book you can set down. I highly recommend you read it yet at the same time offering warning. It can be a trigger for many but I will tell you that it will also teach you and help to open your mind to the reality of mental illness.
Buy Finding Libbie on Amazon, It’s actually FREE for those with Kindle Unlimited!
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