Leave of Absence by Tanya J. Peterson

Leave of Absence by Tanya J. Peterson
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Publication Date: April 2013
Categories: Psychological
When Oliver Graham’s suicide attempt fails, he is admitted to Airhaven Behavioral Health Center. Unable to cope with the traumatic loss of his beloved wife and son, he finds a single thread of attachment to life in Penelope, a fellow patient wrestling with schizophrenia’s devastating impact on her once happy and successful life. They both struggle to discover a reason to live while Penelope’s fiance William strives to convince her that she is worth loving. As Oliver and Penelope try to achieve emotional stability, face others who have been part of their lives, and function in the “real world,” they discover that human connection may be reason enough to go on. 

Written with extraordinary perception into the thought processes of those dealing with mental illness, Leave of Absence is perfect for readers seeking an empathetic depiction of grief, loss, and schizophrenia. It has a place in the classrooms of counselor-educators, among support groups for those with mental illness and for their caregivers, and in the home of anyone who has ever experienced human suffering and healing.

My Thoughts:

This book picked me up, shook me around in it’s teeth, and tossed me aside. What an emotional roller-coaster

Oliver is the most depressed person I’ve ever read about. Being inside his head was nearly torturous. After the loss of his family, he suffers from a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder

Penelope, suffering from schizophrenia, was a revelation to me. That particular mental illness has been completely bastardized by Hollywood and popular culture. This book opened my eyes to the reality of dealing with such a disease.

These two distressed and desperate people form an unlikely, but lovely, friendship. By helping one another they are helping themselves. Even though they don’t realize that it’s happening, they are healing one another in small ways.

I had trouble with the dialogue in this book. It read as unnatural. Things were explained in conversations between characters that could have been shown instead. It may have been a case of telling instead of showing.

Let me be clear: I do recommend this book. The subject matter is important and timely. The author obviously knows what she’s talking about. Her passion for this topic radiates throughout the text. I look forward to seeing what Peterson writes next.

Tanya J. Peterson holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor.  She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities.  She draws on her life experience as well as her education to write stories about the emotional aspect of the human condition.

36 thoughts on “Leave of Absence by Tanya J. Peterson

  1. I had that \”telling v. showing\” issue with \”Watership Down.\” Really wanted to love that one, but it just felt like the bunnies were sitting around telling each other stories for the whole book. One of the few I DNF'd. I love keeping up with your reviews, even if I can't keep up with reading every book!


  2. It's always tough when you are trying to educate people about an issue without pulling them out of the story. It sounds like the dialogue here suffered from that. But I'm glad this book is letting readers know about the realities of mental illness.


  3. I have to pace myself with the mental illness books, because they can be so gut wrenching. This sounds like a good one, and I don't think I've ever really gotten inside the head (literarily)of a person suffering from schizophrenia, I'm sure it's fascinating and heartbreaking!


  4. Jennifer, thank you so much for your insightful review. I'm pleased that you experienced it the way you did, and I appreciate all your feedback and comments. I'd like to thank the readers of your blog, too, for taking the time to read your review of LOA! I truly appreciate it.


  5. The telling rather than the showing bugs the crap out of me. Unnatural conversation between character is always a killer for me, but the premise does sound fantabulous.


  6. Powerful review for what sounds like a powerful book! In the case of the dialogue,I recently read and reviewed a book by Bryan Hutchinson, One Boy's Struggle, detailing Bryan's life to his early 30s. He lived all that time struggling with ADD/ADHD, but wasn't diagnosed until he was 30 something. As I read his writing style, I was immediately bugged, but then I thought about how our 18 year old ADHD/Asperger's grandson talks. Immediately I saw the connection, and with Bryan's detailed descriptions of what causes the behaviors of such a patient, I gained enormous insight to our grandson's life and struggles. But, boy, was it a difficult read because of the run on sentences, dialogue never stopping for a breath, etc.


  7. One of the things I appreciate about your reviews is how well you balance your own emotional reactions with a more objective assessment of the book. This sounds like a difficult book from the emotional standpoint — and probably not a good choice for me, to be honest. Still, it's important to have books like this, which help others understand the challenges of mental illness.


  8. Interesting about the dialogue. My thoughts were that it might be \”too supportive\” which sounds super insensitive, but maybe the problem was more with the dialogue in general. Either way, I really enjoyed and recommend the book as well!


  9. I thought the dialog was kind of odd while reading, too, but I couldn't put my finger on why. I think you're right about her tendency to tell rather than show. But it was a great read overall; engaging, informative about mental illness, compassionate…


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