Saturday, July 4, 2015

OUT CAME THE SUN by Mariel Hemingway

fpoHaving recently read and reviewed the YA memoir INVISIBLE GIRL written by Mariel Hemingway, I decided to read her other new release, OUT CAME THE SUN.  Describing her life and overcoming a legacy of mental illness, depression, and suicide, the book may target adult readers, but its comfortable, flowing text will definitely work for a young adult audience as well.

Mariel Hemingway takes her readers on a journey from early childhood to the present.  The grand-daughter of famous author Ernest Hemingway, she has no memory of her grandfather as his suicide took him months before she was born.  Her father was the son of Ernest during his first marriage and his fame was ever-present throughout Mariel's life.

Mariel describes an alcoholic father who often used his passion for fishing to escape family responsibilities.  Her overly critical mother could be loving, but the love was always overshadowed by nitpicking and fault-finding that caused insecurities in Mariel and both of her sisters.  Sister Margot turned to substance abuse and developed eating disorders that interfered with most of her relationships.  As a model and later an actress, self-doubt left her fragile and unsure, and eventually led her to suicide.  Mariel's oldest sister Muffet suffered from chronic mental illness.  The diagnosis of a manic disorder or possibly schizophrenia resulted in heavy medication and many institutional stays.

Ever the peacemaker in this chaotic family, Mariel was able to survive in her own often complicated way.  She talks of loving the outdoors, especially skiing and hiking near their home in Idaho.  Her sister's acting career opened a door for Mariel when she was cast alongside Margot in a film called Lipstick.  This lead to future roles including starring with Woody Allen in Manhattan. 
Relationships were challenging for Mariel.  Having no healthy relationships to serve as models, she stumbled along as best she could.  Her marriage of twenty-five years to Stephen Crisman was fraught with tension.  She details the difficulties of balancing an acting career with raising two daughters and holding together her marriage.

OUT CAME THE SUN has a definite purpose.  It illustrates for those struggling with addiction, depression, or mental illness that seeking a healthy lifestyle and positive personal attitude can be the answer.  Mariel acknowledges that everyone is different, but in sharing what has worked for her and listing available resources at the end of the book, she hopes her family's struggles can in some way help others.
As a high school and college English instructor, I believe OUT CAME THE SUN will provide an interesting read and a needed resource for many of my students.


No comments: