A Prison of Lies: A journey through Madness by Robert Doran is a deep, emotional book about the struggle of living with a mental illness.
~~~~Some Spoilers Ahead!~~~~
Tom Doran, like most young men, fell in love with a girl. Her name was Mary, and her family embraced him with open arms, providing the warmth and nourishment that his own family was lacking. Tom spent an entire summer trying to fit into a family whose ideals were so far from his own, and things slowly began to degrade as the family tries to integrate those ideals on this outspoken young man. When school begins in the fall, Tom and Mary are separated as they attend colleges that are states away from each other, and that’s when everything falls apart. Tom is torn by grief, self-loathing, and hatred for the family’s new indifference towards him; and his need to be understood begins to take over his life.
I don’t even know where to begin on this review. This is a story about Tom’s struggle to defeat his inner demons, and it’s a very emotionally-charged book. It gives you a detailed exposition into the mind of someone who is suffering from a mental illness, and that makes it a very hard thing to read and digest. It takes you well beyond your comfort zone as you follow Tom through his dealings with grief, rage, humiliation, despair, his need to be understood, and his wish that someone would just listen to him. It personally made me frustrated for Tom when he got stonewalled in his search for answers, and I felt sad for him when his only desire was for a friend. No even God was safe from him as Tom bounced between loving God, to hating God for his torment, to loving God again when he makes his final breakthrough. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, and every character plays a crucial role in creating Tom’s illness. The dialogue is to the point, and the setting is well-defined.
The punctuation needed a lot of work, and the story tended to jump from one viewpoint or time period to another without warning, but I believe it was the author’s intention to use those flaws as an example of his own disjointed reality. If that is his intention, is is very well done because you are trying to find a reference point to orient yourself, but there is no point to be found. This is the ultimate example of what Tom went through in his battle with mental illness. He was alone and scared in a world that didn’t understand him, and all he wanted was someone to talk to. It’s a heartbreaking tale, but the best part about it is that, despite Tom’s disjointed reality, he has some pretty profound insights into the society around him. His brain has a unique way of perceiving the world, and this gives us some hope as he struggles to regain his humanity.
I give it a solid 4 of 5. It’s a very long book, and you will feel like you’re reading the same things over and over, but that just adds to the experience. It has a lot of heavy themes to it, and should probably be read with caution. I believe the author hoped this book would be used to help people with similar experience find a little peace, as well as the friends and families who are unsure how to help. Thankfully, Tom eventually found his peace, and I believe that writing this story was essential in finally setting him free from his Prison of Lies!
About the Author:
Robert Thomas Doran is a survivor of horrific circumstances, and he uses writing as a way to communicate his experience to others who may be in similar circumstances. A Prison of Lies is his debut novel, and Robert has other published work on his blog that further explores what happened to him, and how he’s recovering. To learn more about this author and his work, visit his Website, his Amazon Page, or follow him on Twitter. The author’s photo came from Twitter.