This Blog is Dedicated to our dear friend Karen.
When she left this life she left a hole in our hearts as well as several to be read books.
We, her friends, will read these books for her.
This blog will be a sort of book club for us to post our thoughts and feelings about the stories and feelings we have of Karen while we read.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
#260 Murphy's Boy by Torey Hayden
Say you were a mental health professional, well-respected, a leader in your field. Well-liked by your peers, your opinion is sought on their cases, and they often ask for your assistance with their trickier clients. Now, say your boss calls you into his office and tells you that you're fired. Not because you can't do your job, not because you're difficult to work with, but because it's 1980s Florida, and Dade County has just passed sweeping anti-gay legislation, and it's been discovered that you and your roommate, Hans, are more than just roommates, and the board of directors at your clinic has decided they don't want a homosexual working for them.
This scenario actually happened to the author's colleague. They were working together to help a teenage boy work through some of the horrible, awful things done to him by his own stepfather, with his own mother's consent, and they were making real progress. But suddenly, one of his two lifelines to normalcy is no longer around. He feels abandoned, feels like it's his fault because he's worthless, because who would want to have anything to do with a worthless boy like him? And six months of real progress is down the drain, to say nothing of all the psychiatrist's other patients, abandoned by the one person they can trust, all because some board of directors feels icky about someone's sexuality. Sometimes the world just makes me sick, you know?
Believe it or not, a lot of other stuff happens in this book, some of it good, a lot of it bad. Kevin, the "Murphy's Boy" of the title, makes headway and loses ground and gradually comes to terms with the terrible things done to him in his past. And by the end of the book, he's able to live in a group home, go to school, get a job, and have a normal life.
I really liked this book. I marked it as 5 stars, but I would probably rate it at 4.5 or 4.75, and only for one thing: for all that Hayden is a licensed psychologist, with years of experience working with children, she can seem a bit naive or oblivious when it comes to dealing with a teenaged boy. Also, Hayden takes pride in the fact that she doesn't subscribe to a specific school of psychological thought, but just kinda goes with the flow, trying things out until something works. The problem with this is that, as she herself says, sometimes progress is made and she doesn't know why. It's like if you were cooking with someone and you let them just throw whatever into the pot, and you don't know what the end result will be; if it turns out great, you have no idea how to duplicate the recipe for next time, and if it goes poorly, you just shrug your shoulders, throw it out and start all over. But these are children's minds and lives she's working with here; there's no room for screwing up, shrugging one's shoulders and starting over.
I have no doubt Karen would have loved this book; she would have balked at some of the scarier moments, like when Kevin is describing some of the abuse he and his siblings endured, but she would have cried like me when the big moments of progress happened.