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A Few Words on Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters

April 23, 2011

Ghellow Road

Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters is a very emotionally charged memoir about one young girl’s journey through childhood to adolescence. 

The book is divided in two parts the first part chronicles Water’s early childhood living in Minneapolis, Minnesota while the second part details her experiences in Junior and Senior High while living in the small town of International Falls, Minnesota.  This is a tale of a family’s struggle with mental illness.  Her mother is diagnosed  with schizophrenia and is in and out of hospitals through out much of Water’s youth.  Her father pitted against the ordeal of a sick wife and two children eventually takes his own life.

This is a tale of how one girl overcomes all of the hardships in her life.  She is bounced from house to house and has a rocky relationship with her mother.  Her familial relationships are hard and varied and she retreats as most youths do to the comforts of friends.  In a way this is both a survival story and a coming of age tale.

“As I now look back upon those tragic events, I stand astonished at how quickly my young, shattered mind was able to piece itself back together, at least long enough to christen the next chapter of my life.  The destruction from within would patiently lay in wait amidst a dense cluster of cattails and delicately painted butterflies until the last one migrated southward, never to return again.”

What makes this book so unique are the descriptions that Waters uses.  In her writing she is able to convey lasting images of where she grew up.  Through her descriptions you can feel the sun baking on your skin in the summertime or the harsh cold weather or glory in the beauty of the fall trees.

“It was a place where majestic elm trees lined the quaint neighborhood streets, arching their woody tentacles to lend refuge from the multitude of elements; a place where the alluring beauty of the Minnehaha captivated all who walked beside her as her sensuous waters snaked through the urban landscape for miles gliding toward her graceful demise over an ancient precipice and into the mouth of the thirsty Mississippi.”

Her mother’s battle with schizophrenia is a unique one to see put into words.  It is from the perspective of someone living with a person suffering from the illness and Water’s descriptions make it easy to imagine what it must be like.  There are many descriptions of her mother’s intense fights with what Waters terms “The Invisibles.”  When coming from a child’s perspective you can feel a sense of fear involved and from the adolescent phase there is certainly more anger at these outbursts of illness.

This book is filled with a roller-coaster of emotions as Waters takes you on her journey.  At moments I was near tears and other I was ready to yell at the characters in the books and finally at other moments I was immensely happy and crying tears of joy.  This is a sign of how well the book truly is written as it draws you in so completely that you forget your surroundings and become immersed in what is happening within the pages.  Once I began reading this book I couldn’t put it down — I was desperate to know what would happen next and how things would resolve themselves.  Waters is someone you find yourself drawn to and caring deeply about.  Her writing touches deep chords and you just want the young girl to be safe and to be happy.

Overall, this is a wonderfully written memoir about one girl’s journey through tragedy and her ability to overcome.  It is not a happy tale, but it is written from the heart.  This is a book I would recommend anyone read.

I received this book from the author to review.  For more information on the book Ghellow Road please go to http ://

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