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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802142915, Paperback)Halfway House, Katharine Noel's triumphant debut, does far more than expose the highs and lows of battling mental illness; rather, it leaves readers with a sense of longing that transcends the subject matter. Told from the perspective of five family members, Noel expertly captures each character's essence with unapologetic honesty, creating sympathies that would falter under a less gifted writer. The result is a profound look at how a crisis can both destroy and reinvent a seemingly typical family.
Set in rural New Hampshire, Halfway House tells the story of the Voorster family, whose lives are upended when 17-year-old Angie suffers a breakdown and is eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As Angie shuffles between hospitals, dorm rooms, halfway houses, and her childhood home, the side effects of her disease and treatment impact each member of her family. Her father Pieter, a Dutch-born cellist, retreats into himself, while her mother Jordana begins an affair. Angie's brother Luke finds comfort in his girlfriends, especially Wendy, whom he meets while at college in Wisconsin. Eventually, familial relationships must be broken in order to be reinvented. In the process, family dynamics must shift, and each character must confront their own demons in order to emerge on the other side.
From One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to Girl, Interrupted, the subject of mental illness is hardly uncharted in modern literature. What Noel does is go beyond the disease to explore the consequences of crisis, both punishing and redemptive, without compromise or excuses. That is what makes Halfway House a wonder, and a pleasure to behold. --Gisele Toueg
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:58 -0400)
"One day, Angie Voorster - diligent student, all-star swimmer, and Ivy League-bound high school senior - dives to the bottom of a pool and stays there. In that moment, everything the Voorster family believes they know about one another changes. Katharine Noel's debut illuminates the fault lines in one family's relationships, as well as the complex emotional ties that bind them together." "Set in a small town in New Hampshire, Halfway House is the story of Angie's psychotic break and her family's subsequent turmoil. Angie is a charismatic young woman - brilliant, witty, and passionate - until she swings to manic highs or dangerous lows. Each of her family members responds differently to the ongoing crisis: her father Pieter, a Dutch-born professional cellist, retreats further into his career; her mother begins a destabilizing affair with a younger man; her younger brother, Luke, first distances himself as much as possible from his sister, then later drops out of college to be closer to her. And Luke's college girlfriend Wendy, who comes from a farming town in Iowa, provides an outsider's perspective on the family's teeter toward collapse. The Voorsters manage for a time to maintain a semblance of the normalcy they had "before," when they were the ideal New England family; it is not until Angie is finally able to fend for herself that the family is able to truly fall apart and then regather itself in a new, fundamentally changed way."--BOOK JACKET.
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