3 out of 4 stars
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My Angel My Hero by Brenda McDaniel is a brief history of her family. The main focus is on her parents, Snowe Mann and Henry Earl. Part of the book is a biography and another part is an autobiography. This book is just 66 pages but readers get a lovely view of this family, their life and tribulations.
The beginning of the book introduces the childhood of Snowe and Henry. The author describes her mother as, "90% angel, 10% human." She was kind, a little mischievous, and tried her best to be a good Christian woman. Henry was also kind but suffered from extreme mental illness after his service in the Navy during World War II. He had PTSD and schizophrenia. While Henry was courageous and determined in his service, he suffered greatly. He was once gassed and lived with the terror of not being able to breathe for the rest of his life. The book then goes into how Snowe and Henry were set up on their blind date. Their love grew and so did their family, but they had to fight mental illness together as a family.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the novel is the love that they all share for each other. This family experiences severe mental illness in a time when mental health is not understood. My favorite part of the novel is how the author understood that her father could not control his mental illness. Many people think that those who suffer any sort of mental illness should just get ahold of themselves. To this day, mental health is highly stigmatized. In the 1950s it was so much worse. For those who find these discussions difficult, please be aware there are descriptions of shock therapy. Another thing that I loved about this story is the photos that are placed throughout the novel. It just adds such a sweet touch to this family history. For those who are religious, they will appreciate this family's dedication to Christianity. They stand by their beliefs and hope it shines through them and their actions. Although, I do appreciate that she is honest and open that they are not perfect.
However, there are a couple of things that I did not like. For instance, there are several run-on sentences.
"Steven loved his baby sister, and as they grew up together, they were best buddies or pals and played a game called Pals where they ride stick horses and wore their cowboy suits with their guns on their hips."
These sentences are pretty consistent throughout the story and I would recommend some editing. There are also the issues with the description. The most descriptive the author gets is when she discusses the hair color and eye color, which is given for every single person mentioned in the story. This does affect the flow and slows the pace.
Overall, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. This story is touching and really sheds light on the heartbreaking reality of mental illness. I may have shed some tears at the very end of the story. The author also includes some beautiful poetry in honor of her mother. If the story has some editing and content editing, it would be a perfect read.
My Angel My Hero
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