Book Review: Cutting the Soul: A Memoir by Theresa Larsen


Pages: 348 pages

Publisher: Createspace

Published: December 19, 2014

Genre: Biography & Memoir

Theresa Larsen’s son, Matthew, comes to her with a cut on his hand, explaining it away as an accident with a pocket knife. But as she cleans and treats the wound, she discovers dozens of slashes covering both of his arms. Thus begins Larsen’s compelling personal memoir about what it’s like to be the parent of a mentally ill teenager.

“Cutting the Soul” offers a firsthand look at mental illness, both financially and emotionally. Matthew, fourteen years old when he starts cutting, goes on to face other hardships, including suicide attempts, severe depression, and multiple stays in psychiatric hospitals.

Readers get an inside look at Matthew’s life through the inclusion of his selected journal entries, and Larsen shares her own struggles with personal demons as she tries to help her son. It’s a first-person account and an educational guide worth reading for any parent who’s coping with the mental illness of a child.”

Theresa Larsen’s uphill battle with her son’s mental illness emotionally and beautifully discusses an issue that unfortunately doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. I’m not saying that this was not an easy read and I’m not just discussing the uncomfortable and descriptive details of Matthew’s trials. But difficult for someone who has suffer through mental illness, like myself. I needed to read this, not just to be informative, but for my own well being. Like both Matthew and Theresa discovered, I wasn’t alone in my struggles.

Usually when you read about mental illness, it’s always in the point of view of, in this case I will say, the patient. So it is refreshing to read someone’s experience dealing with a close relative’s mental illness. When you hear about a person suffering through depression and other mental disorders, you always concentrate on how it is affecting that person. But you rarely think twice on how it affects the whole family. You truly don’t understand the physical and emotional toil it puts on a family, the financial burden that they have to go through. When reading this memoir, it is a huge eye opener. Reading about Larsen’s experiences proves why this issue needs to be openly discussed and backing, especially from insurance companies. This is an important issue that just cannot be set aside.

Larsen’s emotions is radiating from these pages. You can feel her pain when she sees her son at his worst. You can feel her frustration when she sometimes loses hope. You can feel her fear when she thinks that every time she visits her son it will be for the last time. I applaud Larsen for writing Matthew’s and her family’s struggles. It must be very difficult for her to relive these painful experiences. But I think it was necessary. It maybe have been cathartic for her but her story needed to be told for others to know that you are not alone in this and there’s hope at the end of the tunnel.

Larsen refers back to Matthew’s writings from his journal and even though it was uncomfortable to read at times due to its dark nature, I believe it was very important. You are reading what Larsen is going through which is vital but you need to know what Matthew is going through in his own words and you get that through his journal writings.

If you are uncomfortable reading about dark, personal matters, then this memoir may not be for you. But I hope you change your mind because in my opinion, I feel that this is a type of book that everyone should read. This is an important issue that should definitely not be bypassed.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Note: I received this free copy from the author for an honest review.

Published by karma2015

I was born and raised in New York. I still live in New York but kind of sick of the city and one day I wish to move to the UK.I have a Masters degree in Library Science and I currently work in a special collections library. I loved books ever since I was a little girl. Through the hard times in my life, my love for books has always gotten me through. Just entering another world different from my own intrigues me. As long as I am entering in another universe, I like to create my own as well. I love to write and hopefully I will be able to complete a novel.

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