Travis_J_Smith’s #CBR5 Review #171: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

11612-marblesEllen Forney puts her entire self, unfiltered, into Marbles. Please excuse the cliche sentiment, but reading it brings you as close to understanding her hurricane of thoughts as you can get without actually being her. So, graded as insight into the mind of a woman saddled with bipolar disorder,Marbles receives the highest mark I can give.

Yet when graded based upon other factors, namely my personal enjoyment, it rates a bit lower. As I believe I’ve discussed in past reviews, real mental illness is the furthest thing from glamorous. Forney herself tries to hold onto that misconception to sugar coat things, but she quickly realizes that membership card she imagines getting is more a crushing weight on her head and chest than a muse.

The blurbs, which I should know to ignore by now, play up, among other things, Forney’s ability to find humor in her dire situation, but in hindsight they read as an attempt by the writers of said blurbs to trick people into reading a much more raw and serious look into living with bipolar disorder. Forney does try her best to find the silver-lining in certain moments (see the above picture), but you can tell it’s a defense mechanism more than anything. In other words, Marblesisn’t nearly as playful as its blurbs, or its cover (pictured below), would have you believe.

marbles As a result, it can be pretty hard to read at times. At least moreso than I expected. And since I rate books almost entirely based upon personal enjoyment, I have to dock Marbles a couple points for that. It may seem petty, but I need to remain consistent. If you want an honest depiction of what it’s like to be bipolar, you can’t do much better than Marbles; on the other hand, though, if you want an enjoyable read, you probably can do better.