Hello again! It’s been a while; I’ve been goofing off on break and generally trying to enjoy myself before school starts again. This book was from my parents for Christmas and it was a lovely surprise. I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw it at Old Town Books in Alexandria, VA during the fall but held myself back from buying it at the time. I’m glad that I did because it was absolutely worth the wait! This book is the result of Kolker’s years of interviewing the Galvin family from Colorado. It’s a fantastic follow up after his last book, Lost Girls, which was a deep dive into the Long Island serial killer. This book was a great and terrible read. Kolker’s writing is delightful but the history of the Galvin family is a tragic one and it was tough just to read about it.
Hidden Valley Road tells the story of the Galvin family. The Galvins had twelve children, ten boys and two girls and six of those boys went to develop severe mental illness, mostly schizophrenia. The book follows all of the Galvin family, from telling the stories of Mimi and Don (the parents) to the heartbreaking stories of their children. Kolker also weaves in the story of the study of schizophrenia and mental illness which I found to be enormously helpful in understanding the cultural attitudes around the treatment of the six boys and the family and how that changed over their lifetimes. The Galvins’ stories were heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful and showed how one family could persevere in the face of so much. There is some description of sexual assault and domestic violence in the book that may be difficult to read for some. I did really like reading the book but some moments I had to put it down because it really heavy stuff. I came out of it with a lot of respect and admiration for those affected by mental illness. So I would recommend this one but maybe with some breaks! Happy Reading folks!