For fans of Maggie Nelson and Meghan O'Rourke, Jeannie Vanasco emerges as a definitive new voice in this stunning portrait of a daughter's love for her father and her near-unraveling after his death.
The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died.
After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals--increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne. Obsession turns to investigation as Jeannie plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle Jeannie feels she must solve to better understand herself and her father.
Jeannie Vanasco pulls us into her unraveling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, The Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.
"*Starred Review* When Vanasco was born, her sixtysomething father had already lost a child from a previous marriage, and one of his eyes to a rare ocular disease. The author was actually named after her father's late daughter, who was killed in a car accident at the age of 16. In this memoir, the living Jeannie Vanasco pieces together the details of her father's life and her own gaping loss when he passed while she was in college. She writes vividly of the exposed-nerve pain of losing a parent at such a tumultuous age. After her father's death, Vanasco struggles with diagnoses, including schizoaffective, bipolar, and borderline personality disorders. In writing the book, Vanasco examines whether her mental illness was caused by the loss of her father or the circumstances surrounding her birth. The language cuts quick to the heart of Vanasco's hurt; readers will immediately fall into the rhythm of her unrelenting inner dialogue. The greatest strength of this work is the author's self-awareness; she admits that writing a memoir about her experience with grief might be further contributing to her personal turmoil. Vanasco's candor, curiosity, and commitment to human understanding are not to be missed.--Eathorne, Courtney Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In this powerful and ruminative memoir, Vanasco explores the years following her father's death as her grief transforms into an increasing obsession with her half-sister Jeanne, who died before Vanasco was born. Her own distress is complicated by a mood disorder that causes her to hear voices and attempt suicide and that she believes is caused by her unending misery. Though Vanasco never met her sister, she draws parallels between her despair and the effect her sister's death had on her father. In one of the narrative's most striking turns, she learns that she has inherited a burial plot purchased by her father next to Jeanne's grave. Vanasco expertly weaves trenchant metaphors throughout the text, particularly with her father's glass eye, which represents his mortality and the fragility of life. The narrative is framed with Vanasco's reflections on writing as she attempts to fulfill the promise she made to her father the night before he died, that she would write a book about him. Though her description of the actual event of her father's death is deeply moving, Vanasco is less successful when describing her writing process, which can veer into overly affected introspection ("I drew my childhood home and wrote 'Metaphor' on all the windows"). This is an illuminating manual for understanding grief and the strange places it leads. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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