Nature or nurture, what is it that makes us who we are? After reading Mirror in the Bathroom, The Child who was Father to the Man, you decide. Born to warring parents in the winter of 62, a complete mental breakdown at the age of twelve is Stephen Elkins escape, only to find him self incarcerated against his will into a home for juvenile delinquents.
The story then moves on twenty five years, finds him happily married, set up in life, only for the demons of a past to come a calling. What follows is a horrific case of self harm, as the author, after numerous sorties with a corrupt cosmetics industry, describes how he tries to eradicate a face, the fall out knowing no bounds. Another breakdown follows, only for his long awaited recovery to be ended, as an accident in a top cycle race sees him wake up a different person. A suicide attempt leads to second incarceration into a mental hospital, while only then is he able to compare a mental health care system of the then and now, whilst he finally finds himself diagnosed for the condition that has been the bane of his life.
An yet the book is far more than a misery memoir, for it is a book of hope, explanation, as it illustrates through pertinent flashbacks – just what might be to blame for such a mental malaise. As it gets inside the mind of the mad man and boy. Describing in detail the lead up to a breakdown.
Whilst it is also comedic, ironic, as it sets itself against the background of a quite unusual famous cycling family of the 60s. As finally, and most importantly, be it through the medication, the numerous hours of counseling, the self help or the attention to diet, it shows that where there is a will, then there really is a way, as one family finally makes a success of their lives and move on.