I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green aka Joanne Greenberg was first published in 1964. The story is set in 1948 to 1951 and is the semi-autobiographical account of Joanne's experience of being a patient in a mental hospital during those same years.
I found this story interesting from many standpoints. The main character, Deborah, is Jewish and this story is set right after the end of WWII.The war plays a role in her illness. The treatment of people suffering from mental illness has changed greatly. Some of those who were hospitalized lost funding in the 1990s and are now homeless. Mental illness is still greatly stigmatized with many feeling that the person who struggles should bootstrap up and get over it.
I loved seeing into Deborah's mind and her illness's reaction when she started to get better. Reading this story helps me understand someone, who I love dearly, better. I felt like Deborah's illness was its own character. Deborah's parents were courageous enough to go through the struggle of allowing her to get well even though at times it seemed she was getting worse.
This book is currently rated at 3.85 on Goodreads and has been reviewed by nearly 25,000 people. I found this book very dark at times and could only read a few chapters a day as they were so thought provoking. I found myself needing to think about each of Deborah's experiences before reading about what would happen next.
I think our world still has such a long way to go in the treatment of and the understanding of mental health, but reading books like this one builds compassion.
Read to a child today to help build compassion.
Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies. If you have a NICU graduate and would like to donate a book and have a special gift plate inside the front cover, just purchase a $5 gift card to our book registry, email me a current picture of your child if you'd like that included. Let me know at what week gestation your baby was born, what weight, and how old your child is now and a little about them. I think this could give hope to those currently in the trenches with their tiny babies when the roller coaster ride gets too intense. I started this project to honor my own twins who were lost too soon and those of two grandchildren who were lost. What started as a one time donation after I'd gathered books for a year has become an ongoing project. Thank you to all who have joined in our efforts to bring the joy of reading to the littlest of babies.