Verdict: While writing to obliterate stigma tied to mental illness, protagonist Hank Galloway, an aspiring engineer and paranoid schizophrenic, sees his way clear to redemption when he applies his perfectly imperfect mind to something tangible in an awww-inspiring conclusion.
After suffering a string of nervous breakdowns that land him in the hospital, mentally battered but brilliant 27-year-old Hank Galloway learns to trust in the difficult road towards working for NASA while battling the demons of a psychotic disorder that attempt to derail normalcy his life.
From the outside, Hank Galloway has the makings of the “normal” life of a man in his late 20s: he’s a suave looker who effortlessly gets the girls, has strong interpersonal relationships and is a go-getter by nature. When the naysayers (namely his parents) doubt his success in pursing an impractical career path, his confidence propels him towards his dream job — cross-country. Psychosocially, that bold exterior tarnishes when a staccato of anxious thoughts fuel unreasonable suspicions about people’s intentions sending his eggshell mind into a tailspin. Suddenly he finds himself traversing California’s Golden Gate Bridge in his pajamas en route to a hotel in another county to hide from his irate, gun-owning neighbor who he’s certain will shoot him dead after he took his parking spot in their apartment complex in Halifax.
In another one of his anxiety-laden episodes, Hank makes himself believe his soul-sucking father will poison him and, on another reckless drive, he becomes embroiled in a car accident with an 18-wheeler that has him sustaining serious injuries in the middle of the street and being uncooperative with a cop practically asking to be taken away in cuffs to a squalid slammer. Could this altered state of consciousness be due to drugs?
In between hospitalizations and suffering nervous breakdowns, Hank returns to school to where he’s in a serious relationship with a pretty girl and studying mechanical engineering at Dewey State in hopes of working for NASA at their San Jose headquarters. Hank’s job working at a bank in North Carolina like his father was unfulfilling, so he followed his love of commercial fireworks and rocket launching to the wine country to the chagrin of his parents who counter the career path as impractical. But Hank isn’t quite the practical guy.
After traveling back to his native Georgia where he took a hiatus from school he’s diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His father blames the stress of the major life change on his breaks from reality, but that is only the catalyst of these psychotic episodes that lay dormant and awaken like a virus. While Hank expects the worst to avoid getting hurt, he realizes the only way out is through (a la Robert Frost) and with a little belief in himself and finding the right people in his life, there’s reason to trust in good in the world.
For Hank, there is no easy way out and learns that taking “the long road” is the noblest way to navigating his problems. In genius speak a la Einstein, Hank learns “you can’t solve your problems with the same thinking you used when you created them.”
~Lianna Albrizio for IndieReader