4 out of 4 stars
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Cracked Piano by Margo Taft Stever is a collection of poems that dissect the human psyche. The author pieced the work using letters written by Peter Rawson Taft, her great-grandfather, while he sought treatment at a psychiatric facility.
What I liked most about the book is that the author chronicled her great-grandfather's history at the beginning of the book. He was a brilliant man plagued by illness because, in the 1870s, there weren't reliable cures for many common maladies. A misdiagnosis coupled with archaic treatment methods prolonged his stay at the facility and isolated him from his family. He penned raw accounts of his time at the establishment and opened up about feeling empty. The author also includes letters from her great-grandfather's doctor. These updated the family about the man's progress and shed light on medical practices which are in stark contrast to today's.
The poems reveal the inner thoughts of a caged but optimistic individual. They tackle relevant themes like divorce, loneliness, and depression. Many people suffer silently, and I'm glad the author's great-grandfather had an outlet to express himself. He was a forward-thinking individual who cared about the environment. He loved nature and was most peaceful when he was one with the elements. I resonated with this views on war and conflict because they affect many parts of the world, leaving people homeless, starving, and dying. The poems also create awareness about infectious diseases like tuberculosis. A time when contracting the disease meant a death sentence is difficult to picture, but it made me appreciate the milestones that the medical community has achieved.
There is nothing I didn't like about this book. It is well written, concise, and enables readers to explore different psychological landscapes. The author states that ethically sourced materials have been used to produce the print version of this book. That earns her popularity among environmentally conscious readers. As a book lover, it made me wonder about the environmental impact of the books I read and the paper I use. Since this is a short book, it is suitable for anyone looking for a quick read. I read some of the poems more than once to grasp them entirely, but that shouldn't deter any dedicated reader.
Overall, the text is well edited. I noticed an extra spacing between the words of one verse, but that doesn't prevent me from awarding the book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It is a refreshing read that I would recommend to lovers of poetry and psychology enthusiasts.
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