SOME THINGS THAT MEANT THE WORLD TO ME by Joshua Mohr
“Shame is the strongest God in the Solar system.”
Review by Bonnie Brody (OCT 15, 2009)
What a wonderful book this is. As a clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist, I was very impressed with the clinically accurate portrayal of Rhonda, the protagonist. Rhonda is a 30-year-old man who suffers from depersonalization disorder which is one of the more severe symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is virtually always caused by extreme childhood abuse. When someone suffers from depersonalization, they can go into what is considered a fugue state or see themselves or parts of their body as “other.” As part of his disorder, and also as an homage to his resiliency, Rhonda has an inner child that accompanies him from time to time. He calls this child “Little Rhonda.” В He also has an older Rhonda as a friend. She is nurturing and loving towards him and he calls her “Old Lady Rhonda.” Both of these Rhondas help him come to terms with his present life in relation to the trauma he’s suffered in the past.
One of the ways that Little Rhonda shows Rhonda his past life, is through a glass-bottomed dumpster with a trap door. Rhonda can climb out of the dumpster into his past and is able to see and question what occurred when he was a child. Little Rhonda also travels with Rhonda back to Arizona where he grew up. Rhonda is searching for his home which he believes is the source of evil. Little Rhonda challenges Rhonda’s beliefs and tries to help him with reality-checking. Old Lady Rhonda doesn’t ask questions. She nurtures Rhonda unconditionally. She gives him food and money and, together, they relax and watch Wheel of Fortune. She is the nurturing mother that he never had.
Rhonda’s background is horrendous. His mother is an alcoholic who drinks ‘Tcha-bliss’ (Chablis) all day when she is at home. However, she often disappears for days or weeks at a time, leaving Rhonda with her horribly abusive boyfriend, Letch. Letch physically and sexually abuses Rhonda in their home, and in order to integrate what is happening in his life, Rhonda blames the home for what is occurring. He sees his house as a desert landscape, stretching and filled with animals. In his own words:
“I sat in front of the TV, but paid more attention to the desert. We barely had a home anymore. Its rooms had stretched to huge distances. The walls had fire ants all over them. Joshua trees and Gila monsters were in the kitchen. Buzzards in the bedrooms, picking at the dead flesh. And the sidewinders, my bodyguards, always slithering in the impossible S-shape of theirs, chasing danger away from me whenever they could.”
The book goes back and forth in time and place from Rhonda’s childhood to adulthood, from San Francisco to Arizona. It starts off in the present with Rhonda saving a hooker who is being beaten in San Francisco. Rhonda spends the night with the hooker and something occurs so that the hooker mocks and humiliates Rhonda rather than being thankful that Rhonda was her savior. The book then takes the reader to Rhonda’s childhood in Arizona and to his time in a psychiatric hospital where he meets with a supportive psychiatrist over time. The psychiatrist does his best to challenge Rhonda’s belief that his house is the source of all the bad things that happened to him.
I can’t say enough positive things about this gem of writing. It takes the reader on a flight so dark and frightening that it could have been difficult to make the journey. However, the author includes just the right amount of humor and enough soothing so that we can take the journey with Rhonda.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 12 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Two Dollar Radio (June 1, 2009)|
|AMAZON PAGE:||Some Things That Meant the World to Me|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Wikipedia page on Joshua Mohr|
|EXTRAS:||Publisher page on Some Things That Meant the World to Me|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Some other books like this that you might like:
Lowboy by John Wray
Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff
The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks
You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett