The Glass Eye
The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died.After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals—increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne. Obsession turns to investigation as Jeannie plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half-sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle Jeannie feels she must solve to better understand herself and her father.Jeannie Vanasco pulls us into her unraveling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, The Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.

The Glass Eye Details

TitleThe Glass Eye
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 3rd, 2017
PublisherTin House Books
ISBN-139781941040775
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Biography Memoir

The Glass Eye Review

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to read this because of the connection to grief and fathers. It took a long time to read, but it isn't particularly long - I think the way everything is in fragments, the way the events and thoughts cycle and repeat, and the way Jeannie stops and steps back and considers what she has written on a pretty frequent basis - all these elements make the book feel longer than it probably needs to be.The element of mental illness is rough to read, because even now I get the impression that the I wanted to read this because of the connection to grief and fathers. It took a long time to read, but it isn't particularly long - I think the way everything is in fragments, the way the events and thoughts cycle and repeat, and the way Jeannie stops and steps back and considers what she has written on a pretty frequent basis - all these elements make the book feel longer than it probably needs to be.The element of mental illness is rough to read, because even now I get the impression that the memoirist is not as aware of her own mental illness as everyone around her is, including, now, the reader. She insists to every concerned family member and every therapist/psychiatrist that this is the grief causing this behavior, this isn't mental illness. But anyone who knows about mental illness (and something I learned from reading The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression) knows that a major catastrophic event can trigger the brain into a cycle of mental illness that is then impossible to escape. It is clear that this is the case for Jeannie. She is obsessive and out of control, self-harming and manic. It is frightening to read about, and for me, I almost felt party to it, by continuing to read the book, the book she insisted on writing despite the advice to the contrary.In that sense there is no overarching feeling of perspective, and I think that's why it feels so repetitive. The author reflects or hones in on specific details, checking her memory with her mother's memory, keeping all her old drafts and journals and recordings to verify, because her mental illness confuses those details. But it feels like she is somehow not seeing it from the perspective the rest of us see it. I can't decide if this is brilliance in writing and structure (and therefore deliberate craft) or if this is illness spilled onto a page. The discomfort it causes for me as a reader makes it hard to rate. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    A deeply affecting chronicle of grief and obsession, written in lucid, graceful prose.
  • Claire Fuller
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this memoir about Vanasco's grief which spirals into mental illness after the death of her father. Although, perhaps the mental illness was there all along, it just took the death for it to properly manifest itself. This is something that Vanasco discusses in a wonderfully round-about way. The book is broken up into many very short pieces, all of which build and gather to give a really intimate view of what life is like for the author, and how she becomes obsessed by her dead half-sister I loved this memoir about Vanasco's grief which spirals into mental illness after the death of her father. Although, perhaps the mental illness was there all along, it just took the death for it to properly manifest itself. This is something that Vanasco discusses in a wonderfully round-about way. The book is broken up into many very short pieces, all of which build and gather to give a really intimate view of what life is like for the author, and how she becomes obsessed by her dead half-sister whom she was named for. I often felt like I was right inside Vanasco's head as she works things out on the page, and also right inside her present time, as she even grapples with editing her book (shout out to Masie Cochran from Tin House!). Highly recommended.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Grief, Jeannie Vanasco writes in The Glass Eye, is inexplicable. To really describe it, one must often approach it adjacently through metaphor, as Vanasco does in her attempts to piece together the story of her unravelling after her father’s death. How can words adequately represent the oceans of pain that swell and drown us? How can we make sense of grief, which often renders us senseless? How does one capture the magnitude of loss?Vanasco struggles with these questions in her memoir, the book Grief, Jeannie Vanasco writes in The Glass Eye, is inexplicable. To really describe it, one must often approach it adjacently through metaphor, as Vanasco does in her attempts to piece together the story of her unravelling after her father’s death. How can words adequately represent the oceans of pain that swell and drown us? How can we make sense of grief, which often renders us senseless? How does one capture the magnitude of loss?Vanasco struggles with these questions in her memoir, the book she promised her father she’d write for him. But it’s a different book than she’d envisioned; it’s the story of the human mind as it attempts to cope with the illogical. It’s her exploration of the devastation she suffered, the fine thread of her sanity barely holding her together. And, in a way, it’s what she always meant to write: in her mourning and her struggle to cope with a new reality, we see that at the heart of it all lies a woman whose love for her father is all-consuming, is extraordinary. An experimental memoir that would make Maggie Nelson proud, The Glass Eye is a literary tour de force, a hurricane of language and emotions that fly off the page, a testament to love and loss and how the lexicon of grief, though universal, is always a personal discourse.[Thank you to the lovely Tin House for the galley!]
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    An absolutely beautiful exploration of family, grief, memory, and madness, this book is OUTSTANDING.
  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 strong stars.Jeannie Vanasco bares her soul in The Glass Eye: A Memoir. There were times it made me squirm with discomfort. But it also touched my heart and made me appreciate her willingness to be vulnerable.The narrative thread is more of a spaghetti-like jumble of disparate elements. Vanasco illustrates both her writing process and her mental illness by jumping around thematically and chronologically. And yet, she finds a way to move forward in the memoir and life.At eighteen, Vanasco agr 3.5 strong stars.Jeannie Vanasco bares her soul in The Glass Eye: A Memoir. There were times it made me squirm with discomfort. But it also touched my heart and made me appreciate her willingness to be vulnerable.The narrative thread is more of a spaghetti-like jumble of disparate elements. Vanasco illustrates both her writing process and her mental illness by jumping around thematically and chronologically. And yet, she finds a way to move forward in the memoir and life.At eighteen, Vanasco agreed to write a book for her dad as he was dying. They were extraordinarily close, since she was born when he was older and had more opportunity to be her caregiver. Because of this strong bond, Vanasco suffers from a long and complicated grieving process. Her father also experienced horrible grief when his 16 year old daughter died in a car accident. Vanasco was given the same name (spelled slightly differently) as her half sister. Now add into the mix the author’s mental illness, and you can see the complexities of this memoir.Jeannie’s deepest grieving moments felt like a kick in the chest, yet my reaction was to feel so much compassion for her. I can’t imagine processing all this grief at such a young age.The Glass Eye isn’t a long book, but it took me a long time to read it. I’d read for a while, and start to feel overwhelmed with sadness. So I’d put the book down, and pick it up when I could face the pain again. But after a week or two of this, I decided to take a day and power through the last 100 pages. I’m glad I did, because that’s where the beginnings of resolution appear.I applaud Vanasco for her persistence in getting this book and her experiences on paper. She chose an incredibly difficult topic and handled it with skill. I’d pick up more of her work in the future, since I can’t help but feel some maternal instincts towards her. Although to say I enjoyed this book would be a stretch—that’s mostly due to the content not the writing style. I hope it gives Vanasco closure and the impetus to continue moving forward.I received a copy of The Glass Eye from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thanks, Tin House Books.Also published on TheBibliophage.com.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    i can’t say a single thing that won’t pale in comparison to the complexity and beauty of this memoir.
  • Chandra Graham Garcia
    January 1, 1970
    Memoirs about mental illness and grieving are NOT supposed to be trending. But memoirist Jeannie Vanasco doesn't care. Indeed, her commitment to grief and overcoming mental illness are compulsions inseparable from the crafting of her story. And....vice versa.Craft is ever-present as Vanasco propels us--in swift, linear fashion--through a three-dimensional web of twentysomething dangers: overachievement, the loss of a parent, confusion of self, the blurring of past and present, obsession, and rad Memoirs about mental illness and grieving are NOT supposed to be trending. But memoirist Jeannie Vanasco doesn't care. Indeed, her commitment to grief and overcoming mental illness are compulsions inseparable from the crafting of her story. And....vice versa.Craft is ever-present as Vanasco propels us--in swift, linear fashion--through a three-dimensional web of twentysomething dangers: overachievement, the loss of a parent, confusion of self, the blurring of past and present, obsession, and radical bi-polar binges of excess and terror. By "ever-present," I refer to her frequent, detached observation of the writing process. This is a highly irregular choice, given that the universal goal of storytelling is for the author to recede. But here, the authorial asides helpfully unite disparate pieces of the story. Ditto for the visual structure of each passage under subject headings. (Don't expect sections titled "Mom" or "Dad" to feature alternating points of view. Just be grateful for the heads up.)If Vanasco is aware that her emphasis on manic, illogical research evokes visions of Homeland’s fictional Carrie Mathison, all the better. The beauty and thrill of "The Glass Eye" is that the plate-juggling narrative never breaks character. Not once. Neither does it navel gaze. These are notable achievements for a memoir about the pitfalls of mental illness mired in protracted grief.Better yet: there is no excess of poetic or artful language here, no obligatory details. Just commitment to truth finding and telling. Consequently, the book reads as fast and well as a spirited thriller. Will the grieving ever end? Will the mystery of Vanasco’s long-dead half-sister be solved? Will Vanasco reveal her mental illness to the people in her story? To you?Many recent memoirs focus on the too-early loss of parents. Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and Regina McBride’s “Ghost Songs” are of note. But “The Glass Eye” is more strident and narrow. More risky. “Risky” plus “easy-to-read” represents the union of two literary unicorns. Feel free to binge."The Glass Eye," TinHouse Books, release date October 3, 2017.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    This book took my breath away. I read it in one sitting; I didn't want to turn away. I keep returning to the scenes, the sentences, the words and marveling at what Jeannie Vanasco has accomplished. I feel privileged that she shared her father's story - and her story - with the world.
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  • Helen Zuman
    January 1, 1970
    I read the first few pages of The Glass Eye a few days ago; then, a couple nights later, I took it to bed with me and stayed up way too late to finish it. Yup, it's gripping.Initially, I didn't expect this book to be a page-turner, thanks to its many section breaks and its pauses for meta-narration. But, despite its gentle fracturing, the story hews to a strong chronological through-line (the protagonist's journey through her father's death and her consuming grief to a degree of peace), and has I read the first few pages of The Glass Eye a few days ago; then, a couple nights later, I took it to bed with me and stayed up way too late to finish it. Yup, it's gripping.Initially, I didn't expect this book to be a page-turner, thanks to its many section breaks and its pauses for meta-narration. But, despite its gentle fracturing, the story hews to a strong chronological through-line (the protagonist's journey through her father's death and her consuming grief to a degree of peace), and has clear stakes: the protagonist's health and sanity, her mother's trust in her father's honesty, the protagonist's access to the truth of how her sister died. Also, Vanasco's clear, spare, flawless prose makes for a smooth ride, free of linguistic speed bumps.Like another reviewer, I wondered, while reading, whether Vanasco was contesting her diagnosis of mental illness; part of me wanted to know exactly where she stood on the subject. However, I also see the value of letting the reader make her own judgments, and leaving room for the kind of ambiguity that arises when we allow ourselves to question our basic assumptions about mental health and mental illness (I remember reading an interview in The Sun magazine in which the interviewee said that the proper response to someone who hears voices is to ask that person what those voices have to say). What I get from Vanasco's approach is a desire to shed light on all facets of her protagonist's complex and whirling consciousness, without condemning any of them as needing to be cut out. As a fellow memoirist (and former MFA student), I was especially interested in Vanasco's portrayal of her MFA experience - to which, it seemed to me, she applied the same agnosticism with which she treats her mental illness. At one point, she lists a number of criticisms (of her work) received from fellow students - just lists them, without comment. Are they helpful? Ridiculously off base? It's unclear. Maybe they're simply fascinating objects of study, for a mind that constantly files, dissects, combines, and recombines.
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  • Yadi (Bookiful.life)
    January 1, 1970
    It really did feel like I was on this journey with Jeannie as she struggled to write what she needed to say yet still trying to figure things out. The small vignette style was a great way to demonstrate that struggle, while the larger blocks of paragraphs demonstrated memories, which were the only certain things Jeannie knew. I would definitely be interested in reading more by Vanasco.
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. This isn't a book I would normally pick up since I don't love memoir, but I have had such an awesome experience with Tin House's Galley Club that I gave it a go. So glad I did. Tin House strikes again. This is a beautiful book about grief, mental illness, and resiliency.
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  • Trisha Perry
    January 1, 1970
    Jeannie Vanasco's first book is a tribute to her father and a long dark trip for her. It span from a promise she made to her dying father before she was forced back to school thinking she would be back in a few days for the weekend to see him again, only to find out he died while she was on the train back to school, and that sparks her long dark journey of with her own demons and some of her dads before this books will end, but will Jeannie with a "I" ever win over her grief and the demons that Jeannie Vanasco's first book is a tribute to her father and a long dark trip for her. It span from a promise she made to her dying father before she was forced back to school thinking she would be back in a few days for the weekend to see him again, only to find out he died while she was on the train back to school, and that sparks her long dark journey of with her own demons and some of her dads before this books will end, but will Jeannie with a "I" ever win over her grief and the demons that haunt her from a lifetime ago. This was a really good book, by debut book author Jeannie Vanasco. She bares all to tell her story, the story of her dad, and the story of their family. This is a no hold barred as she tells all about her illness as well and how deep grief can run for daddy's little girl. This is a wonderful story I hope its the one everyone will read this year.
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  • Solia Martinez-Jacobs
    January 1, 1970
    I was sent an Advanced Readers Copy, as part of the Book of the Month Reader's committee. Jeannie Vanasco weaves a tangled narrative about her father, grief, her own mental health, and the struggle of being named after her dead half sister. Although the plot summary is so fantastic that the book sounds like a work of fiction, it is in fact, a memoir. The narrative is best described as experimental: she talks about her writing process, where she vacillates between binders labeled "Mom", "Dad", "J I was sent an Advanced Readers Copy, as part of the Book of the Month Reader's committee. Jeannie Vanasco weaves a tangled narrative about her father, grief, her own mental health, and the struggle of being named after her dead half sister. Although the plot summary is so fantastic that the book sounds like a work of fiction, it is in fact, a memoir. The narrative is best described as experimental: she talks about her writing process, where she vacillates between binders labeled "Mom", "Dad", "Jeanne" & "Mental Illness". Part one of the book deals with Jeannie, Jeanne and life with her father. When he dies, almost immediately after Jeannie leaves for college, she begins to unravel. As I said, in Part two, the narrative becomes more stream of consciousness/experimental, as Jeannie struggles with her mental health. My sister is also struggling with bipolar disorder, and being around her is very tough because she's so manic. Jeannie's writing perfectly embodies that. She makes connections that only she can see, does things she can't remember and then have to be pointed out to her. Jeannie Vanasco writes with a raw honesty. The story isn't about her father, Jeanne, or the glass eye. It's a peek into her mind after love, and the struggle with loss. This is a quick read, but as I said, don't expect a linear narrative. This definitely may turn some readers off, but if you make it through, you will enjoy it.
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  • Stacey
    January 1, 1970
    This book is going to be popular. That doesn't mean it's great. It's an interesting look at mental illness and grief but the author's attempt at an alternative form falls flat. There also seems to be a disconnect, the author talks about her life as if she can barely function within it yet she also manages to get an internship at the Paris Review and keep it. There was something that really bugged me about how she was exploiting herself and acting like she couldn't function In society. It just se This book is going to be popular. That doesn't mean it's great. It's an interesting look at mental illness and grief but the author's attempt at an alternative form falls flat. There also seems to be a disconnect, the author talks about her life as if she can barely function within it yet she also manages to get an internship at the Paris Review and keep it. There was something that really bugged me about how she was exploiting herself and acting like she couldn't function In society. It just seems false to me. But the narrative underneath was engaging enough that I finished it. Like I said it's going to be popular, I just feel that it may be a case of who you know rather that how you write.
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  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    Probably one of the hardest memoirs I’ve read so far. I think it hits on an incredibly relatable level. Both pieces - her coping with the death of her father (her everything for a long period of her life) coupled with her mental illness (exacerbated by grief). It’s incredibly powerful in its honesty and painfully vivid at times which can be overwhelming. She sprinkles in her own blend of humor (abs) and allows the narrative to lighten as well. We’ve all lost someone incredibly important and it’s Probably one of the hardest memoirs I’ve read so far. I think it hits on an incredibly relatable level. Both pieces - her coping with the death of her father (her everything for a long period of her life) coupled with her mental illness (exacerbated by grief). It’s incredibly powerful in its honesty and painfully vivid at times which can be overwhelming. She sprinkles in her own blend of humor (abs) and allows the narrative to lighten as well. We’ve all lost someone incredibly important and it’s hard to think that loss hasn’t manifested in something that’s visible in our every day forward. It feels good to not feel alone in how, often, being strong just means being capable of internalizing - to our own self detriment.I think to my grandad and how that grief (and my constant vision of it being my father instead) led to what I’d attribute to the dawn of my OCD tendencies. I’d always had anxiety, but the real pieces fell into place when it was triggered out of grief. It’s incredibly empowering to see someone else witness the same issues of trying to express the grief while everyone only wants to focus on the illness or the label.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    The Glass Eye: A memoir is an exceptional book. The author gives a brutally honest and intimate look at her life; her grief at the loss of her father, her compulsion with finding out about the dead half-sister she was named after, her family, her madness. Interesting throughout, it was sometimes difficult to read, "seeing" her madness as those around her do, but which she passes off as strictly grief. I admire the author's willingness to show her vulnerability, and her resiliency.This book will The Glass Eye: A memoir is an exceptional book. The author gives a brutally honest and intimate look at her life; her grief at the loss of her father, her compulsion with finding out about the dead half-sister she was named after, her family, her madness. Interesting throughout, it was sometimes difficult to read, "seeing" her madness as those around her do, but which she passes off as strictly grief. I admire the author's willingness to show her vulnerability, and her resiliency.This book will draw a lot of conversation.Many thanks to NetGalley and publisher Tin House Books for sending me a copy to review.
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  • Y.Z.
    January 1, 1970
    When I was young and books literally saved my life, I thought of them as sacred objects. I regained some of what that felt like when I read The Glass Eye. This is a book crafted with infinite care, filled with so much heart and soul. It is affecting. In the book you find out that the writer, when young, wanted to be a nun. You can see the devotion here. You have to admire Jeannie's attention to every line, every word. (Another note about details: In a clever touch, the "i" in the author's name i When I was young and books literally saved my life, I thought of them as sacred objects. I regained some of what that felt like when I read The Glass Eye. This is a book crafted with infinite care, filled with so much heart and soul. It is affecting. In the book you find out that the writer, when young, wanted to be a nun. You can see the devotion here. You have to admire Jeannie's attention to every line, every word. (Another note about details: In a clever touch, the "i" in the author's name is greyed out on the title page.)
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  • Sheena
    January 1, 1970
    I picked this up at an airport and read it during two consecutive flights. I wish every spur of the moment purchase was so good. Initially, I got it because of the theme of a daughter grieving her father. It ended up as an interesting study in obsession, mental health, and family. One of my favorite things was how the personalities of deceased characters were examined and built out of the wide ranges of experiences that other people had with them when they were alive. I really liked the structur I picked this up at an airport and read it during two consecutive flights. I wish every spur of the moment purchase was so good. Initially, I got it because of the theme of a daughter grieving her father. It ended up as an interesting study in obsession, mental health, and family. One of my favorite things was how the personalities of deceased characters were examined and built out of the wide ranges of experiences that other people had with them when they were alive. I really liked the structure as well. It was a solid read and earned a place on my bookshelf.
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  • Erik Eckel
    January 1, 1970
    The Glass Eye is a sincere, innovative and important new memoir thanks to Vanasco’s frank and enlightening exploration of mental illness. Various passages struck me as simultaneously intense and rewarding. I was sorry to come to the end but hopeful the memoir’s publication provides the author the catharsis she requires and of which she appears so deserving.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting memoir that addresses grief, mental illness, writing, and how they all intersect with one another.
  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    I might be a bit biased, but this book is freakin fantastic.
  • Kim Gausepohl
    January 1, 1970
    Frenetic and fragmented and absolutely perfect.
  • Shea VanKirk
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful fragmented memoir about grief and fathers.
  • Cavak
    January 1, 1970
    Vanasco's memoir reads like a live jazz tune to me: it has a melody that is stable and unified, but the harmony and solos hop and skip to a different player as the jamming goes on. I guess "the band" in this case would be Vanasco and the "harmony" would be other elements in her life besides her grief over her father's death and her mental breakdowns. I liked how strong her relationship with her parents is throughout the book; it struck a cord with me. The descriptions regarding her hospital visi Vanasco's memoir reads like a live jazz tune to me: it has a melody that is stable and unified, but the harmony and solos hop and skip to a different player as the jamming goes on. I guess "the band" in this case would be Vanasco and the "harmony" would be other elements in her life besides her grief over her father's death and her mental breakdowns. I liked how strong her relationship with her parents is throughout the book; it struck a cord with me. The descriptions regarding her hospital visits were fascinating in a lot of ways. Her trait of looking at herself objectively like a stranger was intriguing. And her somewhat cluttered presentation of her thoughts helped characterized her mental state of her decade of grief.At the same time, it was like jazz. When the players are into it, you can dig it too. But when something feels a little off to you during a player's solo, you hope the band comes back strong for that melody. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. You're not supposed to control the music; it's an organic thing that is meant to come from the heart and soul. There were parts of the book that just didn't gel for me, but I think it's mostly due to my personal preferences regarding her writing style rather than the subject matter itself. The synopsis claims that it includes recovery... I don't think she truly does by the end. To me, Vanasco has only started to identify herself through a different lens due to age and experience. Those two ideas don't quite coincide, but that's just me. Maybe I feel that way because the ending left me with more questions than answers. Even so, I want to thank Vanasco for sharing her experiences, her past, her family with us. That isn't always easy to do, no matter what anyone claims. It made me curious enough to finish the book in one sitting, something that I haven't done in a while. It's also easy to read and there's lots of space to breathe in the text. Perfect for a long train ride or a long wait in line. Give this book a try if the synopsis gets a rise out of you in any way. Just like jazz, you might dig Vanasco's story.
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  • Karyn
    January 1, 1970
    Disclosure: I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.In this unorthodox memoir, we get an intimate glimpse into the author's family life, complex grief, mental illness, and her creative process. Jeannie Vanasco takes us on the journey with her as she researches her father's life and so much more in her attempt to fulfill her promise to write him a book. The Glass Eye: A Memoir is a unique read.
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  • Carla
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Tin House Books for the free finished copy for review. All opinions are my own. "You lose somebody perfect, then. Then you come back and tell me what's normal."This novel is a look at Jeannie Vanasco's downward spiral through mental illness, spurred by the grief she experiences when her father passes away. Vanasco struggles to maintain normalcy - attending college, dating, checking in on her mother - in between hospital stays, continual adjustments to her medications, her overwhelmi Thank you to Tin House Books for the free finished copy for review. All opinions are my own. "You lose somebody perfect, then. Then you come back and tell me what's normal."This novel is a look at Jeannie Vanasco's downward spiral through mental illness, spurred by the grief she experiences when her father passes away. Vanasco struggles to maintain normalcy - attending college, dating, checking in on her mother - in between hospital stays, continual adjustments to her medications, her overwhelming grief, and an obsession with her half-sister's death (who died years before she was even born, but happens to be her namesake).I found myself torn throughout this entire book. At times, Vanasco's mental illness seemed very obvious, and while some people seemed to recognize it, nobody - including doctors - seemed to take it seriously enough to actually help her! Reminiscent of Imagine Me Gone, it felt like the doctors simply tried to put a bandaid on the problem instead of figuring out the underlying causes. They'd either add a medicine, up the dosage, or ignore her requests. Even when she'd directly complain about her medications, her concerns were ignored. This broke my heart for Vanasco and infuriated me at what seems like on increasingly common problem with our medical establishment. Overmedicating a person and then sending them off into the world is not helping anyone. And it makes me wonder how many people are wandering around streets buried under layers of various pill's side effects screaming to be let back out.Of course Vanasco's grief is on the more extreme side of the scale, but after losing my own mama to cancer, I can attest to the whirlwind of emotions it sends you into. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed, times I no longer felt like living on this Earth anymore. I felt consumed with wondering where my mama was now, if she was still with me, and if she could still hear me...all of those things (and more) made me feel, at times, as if I was losing my mind. In the book, I couldn't figure out why, even though her boyfriend and mom could see her struggling enough to suggest she go to a doctor, nobody ever mentioned grief counseling to Vanasco? It's like everybody pawned her off to an impersonal hospital but nobody thought to come alongside her and walk with her. And that frustrated me so much for her. I wanted to turn the hands of time backwards so I could just be there for her - someone to hold her hand, listen to her, and let her cry when she needed to. Her love for her father ran so deep and when he died, she was left alone emotionally.I appreciated the underlying themes of the book, but the discombobulated way Vanasco organized her thoughts became a big distraction for me after awhile. I get that it all made sense to her, but as a reader it interrupted the flow and began to annoy me. Also, I didn't love the repetitive nature of the writing. Again, it just became an annoying hindrance to my reading experience. Last, this book ended without giving me any sort of hope. I believe the reader is supposed to feel like Vanasco overcame her grief and got her life back on track, but I don't. I actually worry that she is in a healthy enough mindset to function in her daily commitments.Grief is one of the hardest things I've had to navigate in my life. There isn't a moment that goes by that you're not reminded of your loss. I am so sympathetic to the pain that Vanasco feels, and after reading this, I'm so grateful that I had such a great support network that kept me from falling into the despair she experienced. Her pain is raw and her portrayal of her experiences is honest. If the reader can get past the author's disjointed writing style, there's a lot to be learned about mental illness and grief.
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  • Jessica // Starjessreads
    January 1, 1970
    At eighteen, Jeannie’s dad dies and she promises him on his death bed that she will write him a book. Jeannie idolizes her dad, but he certainly has his issues. Jeannie is the product of a second marriage. Her father was much older when she was born, and she was named after a daughter from his first marriage who died in a car accident at sixteen. That daughter’s name was also Jeanne (without an “i”). I mean that will mess with your head, am I right? While Jeannie was growing up, her dad was ofte At eighteen, Jeannie’s dad dies and she promises him on his death bed that she will write him a book. Jeannie idolizes her dad, but he certainly has his issues. Jeannie is the product of a second marriage. Her father was much older when she was born, and she was named after a daughter from his first marriage who died in a car accident at sixteen. That daughter’s name was also Jeanne (without an “i”). I mean that will mess with your head, am I right? While Jeannie was growing up, her dad was often ill, and eventually had to have an eye removed. She became obsessed with his glass eye.Jeannie’s mental state quickly devolves after her father’s death. She spends the next decade in and out of hospitals dealing with intense and unrelenting grief, mania, depression, and obsession over her dead sister Jeanne and the circumstances of her death. The guilt and sadness has haunted Jeannie’s father and is now haunting her.I found this memoir to be a unique and compelling illustration of grief, mental illness, and the complexity of family. It is written in mostly short bursts organized by four subjects: Mom, Dad, Jeanne (dead sister), and Mental Illness (referring to herself). It is rare to see a memoir with such raw vulnerability. Kudos to the publisher for keeping it organized enough to follow without totally stripping the writing of its sometimes scattered but authentic stream of consciousness. What’s all the more remarkable is that Jeannie has somehow managed to complete this book and is working today as a university professor. It would have been interesting to see the journey from where Jeannie is at the end of the book to the life she is leading today.
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