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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Swing Low: A Life

I have read three books by Miriam Toews in recent months. All are about a Mennonite family troubled by mental illness but lovable nonetheless. Two were novels based on the Toews family. Swing Low is the true story of Miriam's father, Mel, a sweet man who has suffered from bipolar disorder since he was a boy. He grows up to have a happy marriage, two children and a successful career as a much loved elementary school teacher. One wonders how exhausting it was for Mel to live a life with much responsibility attached.
Toews tells the story in Mel's voice. Swing Low is her version of her father's life and ends with his suicide. She writes about a man who succeeds in his career but only his family can see how he has sunk into the depths of despair. It's sad material but is written with great compassion. It's a wonderful book.

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