The Headshrinker's Brigade - Book Review


The Headshrinker's Brigade

Author: Leslie Tourish
Genre: Fiction - Womens
Date Published: September 13, 2018
ISBN-10: 194365834X
ISBN-13: 9781943658343


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Book Review of :  The Headshrinker's Brigade


The title of Leslie Tourish’s novel, The Headshrinker’s Brigade, is as intriguing as the cover art. A psychotherapist, the author knows her profession and writes a contemporary novel with an understanding of real people and humor.  Her characters are complex with a myriad of psychosis.

Julia Langley, the protagonist, is a successful young photojournalist working with a small Texas newspaper. She is content with her job, her life, and her boyfriend until a stress-induced psychotic episode leaves her temporarily blind. Nick, her longtime, handsome, charming suitor begins to manipulate her as she seeks to recover. With the support of a therapist, Julia decides to change careers, return to college and become a counselor. While she is struggling with an internship at a free clinic, Nick stage-manages her life and makes wedding plans.

Tourish’s ability to capture mood is evident when describing the Elston Mental Health Clinic as a reincarnation of a 60s store in a poor neighborhood. A chipped wooden sign announces the clinic with something inside the letter “O” in Elston.  “Someone had scrawled a sad face in the faded circle”. Apathy or tacit agreement? Tourish exceeds in creating some great descriptions like, “All of the other rehearsed parts of her speech flew away like dandelion seeds.”

One of Julia’s first clients is, “Rowene is, well… A  P-I-T-A. A pain-in-the-ass,” a non-technical term for Border Line Personality Disorder. She is described as squat and avocado shaped. Her eyes snapped and sparked under a unibrow. Her squarish head sported a bowl cut with uneven strands of greasy hair.  She had a bulldog jowl and a pug nose.  Pudgy arms mashed into her ample bosom.  Her deep scratchy voice boomed. And she is only one of Julia’s new clients.

Julia begins to evaluate her own life as she helps clients assess their particular needs and understand how they have been influenced and controlled by others. Slowly she begins to see that handsome Nick, who strives to succeed with her at his side, is actually controlling her with his charming, care-taking presence and physical attention. Old habits become less comforting and become a stranglehold on her life.

Can Julia take her own advice to “be brave, show up, don’t quit”?  Has her comfortable life, taken for granted, has now been forced into submission.  Is she trapped? What can empower her to take control of her own life?

Leslie Tourish is an author to watch for in contemporary women’s fiction. She, like Jodi Picoult, a women’s advocate, and bestselling author attempts to tackle little talked about issues and characters with understanding and empathy.

About Leslie Tourish


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