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Book Review: Silent Voices by Debbie Nau Redmond

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Debbie Nau Redmond has written Silent Voices to share her family story about dealing with a family member who had acute schizophrenia. Debbie was the youngest born child in her family of eight children. Her family consisted of two daughters and six brothers. In spite of the largeness of the group, it appears that her parents did a great job of making sure that the children were able to participate in school activities of their choice and have memorable childhoods.

When Debbie’s brother Ricky joined the military and was returned home not too long after with an honorable discharge, she knew something didn’t seem right. In time, Ricky began displaying erratic and delusional behavior. As his symptoms worsened, her family attempted to get him help at both the Veteran’s Hospital and with local agencies who were supposedly equipped to deal with schizophrenia. Unfortunately, everybody except his family failed him. This included the Veteran’s Administration, local behavioral health organizations, the court system and several psychiatrists. Unwilling to help a man who was experiencing severe psychosis and paranoia, Ricky was frequently sent home. In his delusional state, he felt that everyone else around him was crazy and he was the normal one. This led to him refusing to take his medications and refusing to acknowledge that he had a serious disorder.

Debbie was in high school at this time, and as Ricky’s behavior worsened, she was fearful for the safety of herself and her family. Frustrated at not finding anyone willing to work with Ricky, everything came to a head one fateful day when severe tragedy struck her family at the hands of her brother. Dealing with two awful losses, the family’s story is brought to light and the system is shown to have failed them. After everything that Debbie went through, she had to grow up quickly. In spite of the pain of what the family was experiencing, they recognized that Ricky had an illness and they never stopped loving him.

Silent Voices is a tribute to a wonderful family who was failed by the system. In spite of this, their love for Ricky never faltered. Instead of burying themselves in sorrow and anger, the Nau family remained close knit and loving with each other. Each person in her family was able to move on and have successful lives. Even though they didn’t forget the tragedy, they didn’t let it hold them back. While telling the Nau family story, Debbie also educates us on the symptoms of schizophrenia and the realities of dealing with a family member who has this disorder. People who are dealing with this need to read this book to gain a better understanding of the severity of the disorder and the importance of seeing to it that loved ones with it receive proper care.

Silent Voices  also offers and extensive amount of information on the disorder and resources with which one can follow up on. Not only is this book a tribute to a wonderful family, it is an excellent resource for those needing more information and some direction. Readers will know that they are not alone on their journey.

(Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views)

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