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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guest Review: Seacliff - Susan Tarr



Seacliff, a Regular Boy Within. by Susan Tarr
Review: Seacliff - Susan Tarr - March 2013

Malcolm lost everything in life when his mom died and his dad abandoned him at the train station. As trauma after trauma manifested in this young boy's life, his brain closed off the section when his memories became too much to handle. As a result he became more quiet and eventually stop speaking altogether. He had to endure terrible odds to survive, but had the presence of mind to know what was actually happening with- and around him. He was admitted to the Seacliff Asylum, which later would be named Seacliff Mental Hospital. It was also known as the Loony Bin or Booby Hatch, where "Malcolm gleaned that mad people shouldn’t speak. It only caused trouble and more work. They should sit and be quiet. Quietly mad. They lived in a world full of silent people in The Building – that’s what the hospital was called.

He suffered and witnessed the aftermath of experimental treatments, including the embarrassing concept of Eugenics, on people and at one point decided to take control of his own destiny by hiding his medicines in his pocket seams and not drinking it in the hope of improving his memory, which were constantly destroyed by The Treatment. With all The Treatments they had to endure through the years, and all the medicines fed to them to calm them all down, the 'inmates' lost their mind altogether. A little voice in him encouraged him to fight back his own silent way.


Seacliff Lunatic Asylum

The book is not only a commemoration of the historical building, Seacliff Lunatic Asylum in New Zealand, but also a detailed description of the lives and characters who graced it with their presence as either the 'rejects' of society, or the staff who worked there for many years. The characters are so endearing, I almost felt like going to them and say "I am so sorry society treated you this way".

The story winds through the historical facts with ease and a gripping tale is introduced to the reader. The tale is very well written.

This book reminds me of the movie "One flew over the Cuckoo's nest" , which also had me laughing and crying. Eventually Malcolm's spirit would triumph and in his case it became a celebration, after confirmation, of hope which never died:

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." --(Movie quote from: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - Andy Defresne (Tim Robbins)

What an amazing story! 


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