Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Review: Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them

Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them: Schizophrenia Through a Mother's Eyes, Simonetta Carr, P&R Publishing, 2019, 368 pages.

You might be familiar with author, Simonetta Carr. She has written many Christian biographies for children and has a church history blog, Clouds of Witnesses. But this book is different. Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them is deeply personal because she writes of her son's battle with schizophrenia.

The first part of this book is Jonathan's story. After one semester away at college, his parents became very concerned over the sudden change in his personality and behavior. This led to the diagnosis of schizophrenia and the difficult road of finding the right care for a condition that is not fully understood, all while navigating a system that can make this task even harder. As an adult, Jonathan could also choose to comply with medication and therapy or not and grant his parents access to his medical information or not. Their local church stood with them during this time, and there were signs of hope after he began seeing a new doctor. But tragically, there wasn't a happy ending. Forgive me for not sharing more details, but I refrain out of respect for Jonathan and his family. This isn't my story to tell, and you need to read it in his mother's words.

In the second part, Simonetta shares what she gleaned in her search for answers. This section begins with a chapter on understanding schizophrenia and some of the possible misconceptions surrounding it, which is followed by a chapter on different medical approaches. In addition, she writes about the importance of familial support, care for the caregiver, application of the gospel, advocacy, and recovery in the already-but-not-yet. Given the complexity of humanity and the illness itself, this information is very helpful because it takes into account the physical, psychological, and spiritual components of care.

Broken Pieces is a beautifully written, powerful, and yet heart-wrenching book. Although I have never walked in Simonetta's shoes, I can relate to her maternal love and the desire to do all she could for her child. I had a hard time putting the book down, but I had to pause at times to weep for Jonathan and his family. Don't get me wrong. This wasn't written to manipulate the reader's emotions but an honest account of a very real aspect of the fall. But this book is also one of hope because the Carr family found comfort in life and in death in the gospel. I can't imagine how challenging it was to write this, but I am thankful for Simonetta and her labor of love. I highly recommend Broken Pieces for pastors, church leaders, caregivers and family, and the rest of us. May the Lord use this to remove the stigma of mental illness from the church. And may we grow in compassion and love because Christians can have serious mental illness, too.

I will end my review with Jonathan's poem, which inspired the title of this book. Simonetta found this on his birthday after his death - a gift from God that confirmed Jonathan's faith.
Oh, how I love blessed Jesus
the one who died to save us
He makes me laugh like I was Beavis.
He is my strongest reason,
the only one who stays through the seasons.
He picks up my broken pieces.
He's there in every stroke of genius.
He forgives me for my constant treason.
Been watching since I was a fetus. (pg. 193)

I received an e-copy of this book from P&R Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Broken Pieces is available at Amazon | P&R Publishing | Reformation Heritage Books | WTS bookstore

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