A powerful, unflinching and wryly funny mental health memoir that digs into the frightening importance of family and the undeniable power of love. In stories written over eight years of financial stress, two deaths, and one five thousand mile move, Frank fights to understand and control his "mental hell tornado of overthinking, confusion, and boundless fear, to at least be of some use to my wife, my two ADHD kids or anyone I loved before everything I cared about was blown away." Of course that means getting out of his own head long enough to care about others and learn how to help. For an ADHD, hypomanic, alcoholic, that's a challenge. But he's not about to give up..
Concept/Idea: Frank South's A Chicken in the Wind and How He Grew collects columns reprinted from ADDitude Magazine about the author's experiences as a father, son, husband, and writer with ADHD. While many of the columns are short, South recounts and interrogates his life with welcome wit and frankness. South focuses on crucial and compelling details when describing his children's problems in school, his father's health issues, various relatable crises, and the way people with ADHD often get treated by society as "vacant, lying, retarded troublemakers." Occasionally, he offers well-considered advice for parenting, writing, and facing life with ADHD.
Prose: South's prose isn't just clear, clean, and lively. It's memorable and epigrammatic, with any page of the book offering pleasing lines and insights. Between the passages of purpose and power dealing with alcoholism and ADHD, or the harrowing experience of helping tranquilize his father, South generously studs the text with phrases and observations that are their own reward.
Originality: South's experiences are unique, and their treatment is thoughtful, original, and fresh.
Execution: South's A Chicken in the Wind and How He Grew is as funny as it is wrenching. That said, the reprinted column structure of the book rewards browsing through more than it does reading the collection straight through. Narrative momentum occasionally develops when pieces on related topics follow each other, but often readers will be starting fresh with each short piece, which can create a feeling of repetitiveness. Some of the pieces are longer than others, taking their time to tell their urgent story, while others sometimes feel too short.
Blurb: Sharp, funny, insightful, and unflinching, Frank South's A Chicken in the Wind and How He Grew illuminates the mind and heart of a father facing life and family with ADHD.
Date Submitted: October 03, 2019