Haywire at times reads like a mystery story, as Brooke and the reader try to unravel a mystery that is beyond our reach. What brought these people, who seemingly had everything, to feel that life wasn't worth living? Would medication have helped? All three spent time in mental institutions, and were medicated (and probably poked and prodded). It's clear from Brooke's conversations with Bill that she believes that her brother's problems were directly influenced by his parents' committing him when he was just a teenager.
CW: Brooke Hayward, Margaret Sullavan, Bridget Hayward
Sullavan was a complex woman, who, no matter how many times she may have said that she wanted to retire or distance herself from Hollywood — "Perhaps I'll get used to this bizarre place called Hollywood, but I doubt it" — clearly was an actress first and foremost, at home and on the stage and screen. She seemed to teeter back and forth between wanting to be part of "a regular family," and then disappearing for months at a time from home to appear in a play, with her children raised by a nanny they felt physically and emotionally closer to than either parent.
Sullavan and Hayward probably never should have become parents. They virtually ignored the day-to-day lives of their children, using nannies as buffers. When Sullavan "retired" and started really spending time with the family, all hell broke loose. Brooke traces the dissolution of her family to her parents' divorce, but it's clear there were already serious issues. These people didn't really know each other, even like each other, very much. A child only sees problems in a family after a certain age. Brooke's parents divorced when she was 10. That's about the age when a kid's memories become more linear. I can remember isolated events or even images from a much younger age, but I didn't have a good sense of my parents and their personalities, other than "Mommy" and "Daddy" until I was 10. That's when I started noticing things weren't perfect in our family, too.
It's actually more awful to me to think that Brooke felt her family started to fall apart after the divorce — that the good times in their lives were the hazy memories she has of her childhood when her parents were still together — and completely wound up in their careers and each other and ignoring their children. She has nostalgia for a family that never really existed, except in Life magazine publicity photos.