University of Pittsburgh law student, Maggie Hovis, battles an enemy she cannot escape—her own brain. Her family calls her a drama queen. Her fiancé, Sam, moves out after she throws a shoe at his head. Maggie knows there is only one way to get him back—control her moods. So she takes the step most of her family is against: therapy.
After a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder, Maggie begins to investigate her family tree—which is plagued by mental illness and hidden relatives—and develops empathy for her deceased Great Aunt Ella, who lived her life in a mental institution. But Maggie’s journey leads her into fear and insecurity, afraid she’ll end up like Ella and never get Sam back. But what about Nick, her super-sexy old flame, who wants to reignite their passion? Does it even matter, anyway? Won’t mental illness stop any man from loving her?
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I knew I shouldn’t go, but this party was important. I had to see Sam. Why couldn’t I get a break, just once?About Susan
Saturday morning, after finishing a bagel and downing a cup of coffee, dread took up residence in my stomach and brain. Vacuuming the living room failed to help shake off the feeling, so I crawled back into bed, hoping to sleep it away. At about noon, I woke up with a pounding headache, an indefinable angry sensation, and no desire to leave the bed. Then for absolutely no reason, I started sobbing. Please, I begged the encroaching depression, go away; not now, not today. Please, let me make it to this party.
At six-thirty, I dragged myself out of bed and dressed in the costume. By seven o’clock, against my better judgment, I backed out of my parking spot and began the forty-minute drive to Julie’s house. Common sense warned me to turn around and go home, but I needed this chance to talk to Sam.
While driving down the main street of Zelienople, the absurdity of the costume smacked me in the face. I turned up the radio volume to drown out the horrible litany of adjectives reverberating through my brain, Ugly, fat, worthless, stupid…
As I drove west on the Ellwood-Zelienople Road, self-abusive thoughts replaced the rational ones, and the angry, evil woman living inside my head, who silences me during every episode, commandeered my thoughts. She taunted: Julie only invited you because she pities you. She knows Sam will never come back. You’re ugly and useless, Sam marry you? Ha, such a joke. Stop deluding yourself. No man would waste his life with you.
So absorbed in my masochistic thoughts, I failed to realize my car had drifted into the lane of an oncoming van. Frantic horn honking wrenched my attention away from the costume and back to the road. For a brief second, time slowed and every muscle in my chest constricted around my rib cage. My arms cut the wheel hard to get back onto my own side of the road. Once the van safely passed, I eased onto the shoulder, threw the gear into park, and collapsed forward onto the steering wheel. My hands flew to my head and squeezed. “Shut up,” I roared to the part of my brain telling me I should have let the van kill me.
Ten minutes later, I turned the key and put the car into drive. My heartbeat had returned to normal and air moved in and out of my lungs. I gripped the steering wheel with both hands and focused on the road, knowing full well I was driving in the wrong direction. Home was the other way.
Susan Sofayov lives in Pittsburgh, PA with one husband, three children, and the most hated dog in the neighborhood. She and her husband operate a real estate development/management company. She is a former vice president of child care for a large non-profit organization and holds a BA in English Literature and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and an MA in Teaching from Chatham University.
Susan loves pizza, babies, and gummy bears. She readily admits to suffering from an acute fear of punctuation marks, especially the ever malicious comma.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Defective by Susan Sofayov, Maggie is a young woman with bi-polar disorder who gets a serious wake-up call when her fiancé leaves her because, while he loves her, he can’t live with the scary person she becomes when her condition acts up and she has what she calls “episodes.” Willing to do anything to get Sam back, Maggie does the unthinkable, according to her family. She decides to see a shrink and get help.
I found the story extremely interesting as I knew nothing about bi-polar disorder. It is sobering to realize that sometimes people act crazy because they really can’t control their behavior. You simply cannot help but feel for Maggie as she struggles to live a normal life, knowing that she isn’t really normal, but not knowing why. And you rejoice with her when she finally finds a medicine that helps her control her symptoms and “quiet her noisy brain.” It is a warm, inspiring, and moving story and I enjoyed every word. I give Defective 5 Stars.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Defective by Susan Sofayov is the story of a young woman with Bi-Polar 2 Disorder. She knows that she has good days and bad days, but she doesn’t know why, and she doesn’t get help, or even realize how serious the problem is, until her boyfriend moves out after she has one of her scary bad days. Devastated, she takes a friend’s advice and decides to go see a therapist to get help, knowing that is the only way she can get her lover back.
Maggie spends the whole of the book trying to get Sam back, even when we begin to see that perhaps Sam is a bit of a jerk and doesn’t really deserve her. After all, instead of trying to help her, he just walks out on her. Which is why the ending is such a pleasant surprise. The book is touching as well as thought-provoking, giving us a glimpse into the daily life of someone whose own brain is her worst enemy. It may not be a page turner, but it is definitely worth the time to read and think about. It will at least make you realize how lucky you are to be normal, and perhaps make you a little more understanding of those who aren’t. I’m giving it 4.8 Stars.