Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: The More You Ignore Me

The More You Ignore Me...The More You Ignore Me... by Jo Brand

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Author Jo Brand is a former psychiatric nurse-turned comedian-turned writer. Her first novel is about Alice, whose mum Gina suffers from schizophrenia. She's in and out of the mental hospital, and when she's heavily medicated, she's a shadow of her former self.

Alice and her dad Keith do their best to care for her and love her--but she's not terribly unlovable. Finally, Alice conspires to give Gina a break from her medication, and all hell breaks loose. Gina's form of mental illness is to fixate and obsess on a particular man, convinced that they are meant for each other. This time, Gina's target of affection is Alice's own obsession, Morrissey from the rock band, The Smiths.

In the Herefordshire countryside, Alice and her family are surrounded by Alice's school mates, a horrible bully, Gina's crazy family (aptly named the Wildgooses), Keith's social-climbing parents, and the family doctor (named Marie!), who is in love with Alice's dad.

The book veers into slapstick and tries to accomplish way too much at times (with bunches of side storylines), but Brand handles the subject matter sensitively and wisely. She gives insight into what it would be like to live with a mentally ill mother (or wife), and she manages to make Gina into a sympathetic figure, even as she is difficult and unlikable.

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