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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness by Marti Eicholz is an engrossing story that is character-driven and explores the journey of Mary Turner, a woman who had a difficult childhood and who has never felt like she really belonged. Determined to succeed, she elopes with Adam, her new love. But the birth of her child, Scotty, comes with new challenges and her difficulty in emotionally connecting with the child becomes evident. Diagnosed with bipolar illness, she leaves her child and Adam and moves to Las Vegas where she gives in to booze and drugs and makes a lot of money moving drugs. But she eventually leaves the life of a junkie behind and moves on. When she comes home, intending to reconnect with Adam and her child, she meets Luke, her old friend and an addict, and a strong romance starts between the two. But Luke leads her onto a path that will bring her more pain, the loss of a child, and prison. Is there any room for healing for her?
This is a spellbinding story with strong themes, including love and family, loss and grief, parenting, and abuse. The story is fast-paced and filled with action and I particularly liked the psychological and emotional depths of the story. The characters are wonderfully developed, and readers will enjoy how realistically Mary Turner is written. Her childhood lays the foundation of her adult life and the trials she faces as she matures. The prose is crisp, and Marti Eicholz keeps the writing balanced and deft. The scenes are focused and the points of view of the characters are unmistakably clear. Petals: Unfurling a Life with Mental Illness is filled with pathos, humanity, and realism; it’s a great read.