Hamster Island by Joan Heartwell is the gut-wrenching tale of the author’s life and the challenges she faced.
~~~~Some Spoilers Ahead!~~~~
Living in poverty with a dysfunctional family, Heartwell takes us deep into her world and allows the reader a glimpse of a life that is full of heartbreak and impossible challenges. The middle child in a fractured family, Heartwell tells us about her life among a workaholic father, a strict religious mother, a kleptomaniac grandmother, and her two siblings who both have mental illnesses. She is the only family member who dreams of a normal life, and you get to watch as she gradually achieves that dream.
Hamster Island shows us the truth about living with someone who is mentally challenged. All of the frustrations and worries she had about her older brother David and younger sister Judy is clearly felt in the description of their lives together. The author takes you on an emotion-filled journey as she tells you about being ashamed of them as a child, wanting to get away from the filthy house and have her own life as a teenager, and finally making it out when she’s twenty. But she never truly makes it out, as you soon discover.
As far as critiques go, the book was fairly well written. There were some major time line gaps in between parts one and two, and part two tended to jump around a little more, but it was still enjoyable as a whole. The only other thing I noticed were some punctuation errors, and maybe a few repeat phrases or two. Besides those minor flaws, the book reads like someone is telling you a story, and you are sucked in with every word.
Overall, I give it a 3 of 5. It was a very emotional read for me, and I appreciated the chance to look into a life that was so very different from my own, and I would recommend Hamster Island to anyone who wants to learn more about living with a mental illness.
About the Author:
Joan Heartwell makes her living as a pen for hire, and she blogs for and writes fashion articles with various companies. Heartwell also has four other novels under a pen name, but unfortunately, I cannot find it. To learn more about Hamster Island, check out it’s Amazon Page or its Facebook Page. No author photo could be found.