4 out of 4 stars
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Letters From a Broken Man by Michael Trudeau is a poignant poetry collection. With the exception of the first and final poems, each title includes "Letter to..." and addresses family, friends, God, life, addiction, time, fear, the unforgiven, and the reader, among others. Trudeau's poetry is unflinchingly honest as he expresses his struggle with mental illness:
"Only one thing keeps me from being stronger
My own twisted, failing, crumbling mental disorder."
In the synopsis, Trudeau refers to his personality disorder and comorbid depression. He explains that he writes poetry "...to work out complex emotions that would otherwise be bottled up and misunderstood." As Trudeau examines both causes and consequences of his illness, he conveys his inner thoughts with eloquent passages like the closing lines from his title poem:
"The vault of my disheveled mind is opened
As I journey once more to hope's end."
Likewise, I most appreciate Trudeau's transparency regarding his struggle. He gives readers a glimpse into his thoughts, including concerns about disappointing family, appreciation for his friends, and frustration with his illness. "Letter to Myself" is one of my favorites; Trudeau ponders the "...mind, the soul, the heart, the will, who has control?" He illustrates his stirring contemplation by contrasting a movie director with someone watching the film and a train conductor with someone speeding down the tracks. On a personal note, one need not wrestle with mental illness to identify with "Letter to Fear." Likely, I am not the only reader who can relate to Trudeau's description of fear as an "...unwanted and pesky resident."
The only thing I disliked about Trudeau's insightful collection was that the mere 39 pages left me wanting more. I will also note that I disagree with the suggested age and grade range on Amazon. I recommend exercising parental discretion; some of the content may be too dark for ten-year-old children as well as some sixth-grade students. On the other hand, in cases where a loved one struggles with mental illness, parents who preview the collection may feel the poetry is appropriate and that their child is emotionally mature enough to read the poems.
I rate Letters From a Broken Man 4 out of 4 stars. The collection is exceptionally edited and brings needed awareness to the topic of mental illness. I recommend the book to fans of poetry, those struggling with personality disorders or depression, and readers desiring a better understanding of mental illness. The book contains no profanity, but please note the suggestion regarding parental discretion in the previous paragraph.
Letters From a Broken Man
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