Blog Tour: The Isolation Door

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, we're pleased to present a review for The Isolation Door, a new contemporary novel by Anish Majumdar. Make sure to check out the rest of the tour stops to see other reviews!

By Anish Majumdar
Published on February 4th 2014
Published by: Ravana Press
Source: Publisher/blog tour
Neil Kapoor, 23, is desperate to create a life beyond the shadow of his mother’s schizophrenia. Years of successive relapses and rehabilitations have forced his father into the role of caretaker and Neil into that of silent witness. But there is no light within this joyless ritual, and any hope for the future rests on finding an exit.

Amidst her latest breakdown, Neil attends drama school in pursuit of a role that might better express the truth of who he is. What started as a desperate gambit becomes the fragile threads of a new life. A relationship blooms with Emily, and each finds strength – and demons - in the other. New friendships with Quincy and Tim grow close and complex. But the emotional remove needed to keep these two lives separate destabilizes the family. Neil’s father, the one constant in the chaos, buckles under the pressure. Enlisting the aid of an Aunt with means and questionable motives, Neil plies ever-greater deceptions to keep the darkness at bay. But this time there will be no going back. As his mother falls to terrifying depths a decision must be made: family or freedom?

In this powerful fiction debut, acclaimed journalist Anish Majumdar shines a much-needed light into the journey of those coping with serious mental disorders and the loved ones who walk alongside them. Incisive and filled with moments of strange beauty, it marks the arrival of a unique voice in American letters.

For the longest time, Neil's life has centered around his mother and his illness, and he views his chance to go to drama school as a way to start a new life.  This only sort of works, as the new friends Neil takes up with bring new complications to his life.  Neil's life seems like it was very isolated before school, so he is learning to be his own person and to navigate new relationships at the same time.  Inserting himself into the cohort of Emily, Quincy, and Tim can't be the easiest way to do this, as they all come with some significant baggage of their own.

The most compelling parts of this book for me were the glimpses of Priya's life, her feelings, her illness, etc., either through Neil's eyes or through her own.  The author has personal experience with mental illness, as his mother has schizophrenia, and so these sections are sometimes the most poignant, poetic passages in the book.  The author's writing is very sparse at times, but still rich with emotion, and you are really drawn into Neil's life.

This book raises some interesting questions as Neil finds himself frequently having to choose between taking care of his family, or having his own life, and I can only imagine how difficult that sort of decision would really be.  Additionally, I found this book fascinating because of the different cultural attitudes and experiences of mental illness, and you wonder how different things would be for a different family instead of the Kapoors.  Overall, this was a fascinating, heartfelt read and I look forward to seeing more from this author.

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