Suspended Sentence: A Memoir
by Janice Morgan
She Writes Press

"As a parent with a teenage son in a detention facility back in 2003, I could only wonder: who will be the catcher in the rye to keep young persons with mental health issues today from eventually falling into the coils of the criminal justice system tomorrow?"

In her revealing memoir, Morgan observes the uncertain trajectory of her son's path from childhood to the criminal justice system. When Dylan is arrested, he is suddenly transformed from a University of Cincinnati student to a criminal. Morgan is "scorched by the shame" of this bombshell, reflecting upon their relationship while trying to understand his inner struggle. She traces his boyhood, wishfully reversing time to prevent his downward spiral. With frankness, she considers the loneliness and insecurities, the impacts of her failed marriage, and her mistakes and guilt as a parent. Tormented by a myriad of "what if" questions, Morgan inspects every aspect of their lives for reassurance and meaning to it all. Simultaneously, she casts light on mental health issues and the undue pressures of society. Coming to terms with her son's bipolar disorder, Morgan candidly probes the complexities of the condition and the agonizingly slow wheels of justice. She navigates the blurred lines of teen angst and examines the emotional and financial toll an affliction has on everyone.

This narrative built of "existential speculations" is a plain-spoken, insightful exploration of a life straddling dual realities. As a parent, Morgan assumes heavy burdens to aid her child through painful life transitions. As a woman, she discovers herself and seeks inner peace from those burdens. Morgan touches on the crucial need for mental health support while scrutinizing its often dizzying, unpredictable course. Sparse pencil-drawn portraits give a tender pause at moments, calmly reminding the reader of the real humans behind these ordeals. Additionally, Morgan provides supportive reading resources for others dealing with similar issues or who simply want to be informed. Hers is a genuine, firsthand account that graciously lends voice to parents and children confronting the heart-rending experiences of mental illness and addiction.

A 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

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