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The Glass Eye: A Memoir

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The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died. After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died. After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals—increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne. Obsession turns to investigation as Jeannie plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half-sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle Jeannie feels she must solve to better understand herself and her father. Jeannie Vanasco pulls us into her unraveling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, The Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.


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The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died. After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade The night before her father dies, eighteen-year-old Jeannie Vanasco promises she will write a book for him. But this isn't the book she imagined. The Glass Eye is Jeannie's struggle to honor her father, her larger-than-life hero but also the man who named her after his daughter from a previous marriage, a daughter who died. After his funeral, Jeannie spends the next decade in escalating mania, in and out of hospitals—increasingly obsessed with the other Jeanne. Obsession turns to investigation as Jeannie plumbs her childhood awareness of her dead half-sibling and hunts for clues into the mysterious circumstances of her death. It becomes a puzzle Jeannie feels she must solve to better understand herself and her father. Jeannie Vanasco pulls us into her unraveling with such intimacy that her insanity becomes palpable, even logical. A brilliant exploration of the human psyche, The Glass Eye deepens our definitions of love, sanity, grief, and recovery.

30 review for The Glass Eye: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I wanted to read this because of the connection to grief and fathers. It took a long time to read, but it isn't particularly long - I think the way everything is in fragments, the way the events and thoughts cycle and repeat, and the way Jeannie stops and steps back and considers what she has written on a pretty frequent basis - all these elements make the book feel longer than it probably needs to be. The element of mental illness is rough to read, because even now I get the impression that the I wanted to read this because of the connection to grief and fathers. It took a long time to read, but it isn't particularly long - I think the way everything is in fragments, the way the events and thoughts cycle and repeat, and the way Jeannie stops and steps back and considers what she has written on a pretty frequent basis - all these elements make the book feel longer than it probably needs to be. The element of mental illness is rough to read, because even now I get the impression that the memoirist is not as aware of her own mental illness as everyone around her is, including, now, the reader. She insists to every concerned family member and every therapist/psychiatrist that this is the grief causing this behavior, this isn't mental illness. But anyone who knows about mental illness (and something I learned from reading The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression) knows that a major catastrophic event can trigger the brain into a cycle of mental illness that is then impossible to escape. It is clear that this is the case for Jeannie. She is obsessive and out of control, self-harming and manic. It is frightening to read about, and for me, I almost felt party to it, by continuing to read the book, the book she insisted on writing despite the advice to the contrary. In that sense there is no overarching feeling of perspective, and I think that's why it feels so repetitive. The author reflects or hones in on specific details, checking her memory with her mother's memory, keeping all her old drafts and journals and recordings to verify, because her mental illness confuses those details. But it feels like she is somehow not seeing it from the perspective the rest of us see it. I can't decide if this is brilliance in writing and structure (and therefore deliberate craft) or if this is illness spilled onto a page. The discomfort it causes for me as a reader makes it hard to rate. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    I had one reason for reading this book and that arose from an interview with the author in which she says this about her memoir: “I was sectioning off narratives and scenes, and then present-tense craft sections preceded each chapter.” In this respect I found what I was looking for in this book. * From page 29, 8%: But I worry that I lose authority as a storyteller if I recall memories from age four. I could preface some of those memories with “I remember.” Or, in memoir, is such subjectivity impli I had one reason for reading this book and that arose from an interview with the author in which she says this about her memoir: “I was sectioning off narratives and scenes, and then present-tense craft sections preceded each chapter.” In this respect I found what I was looking for in this book. * From page 29, 8%: But I worry that I lose authority as a storyteller if I recall memories from age four. I could preface some of those memories with “I remember.” Or, in memoir, is such subjectivity implied? Like “I see” and “I hear,” “I remember” is almost always an unnecessary filter.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Grief, Jeannie Vanasco writes in The Glass Eye, is inexplicable. To really describe it, one must often approach it adjacently through metaphor, as Vanasco does in her attempts to piece together the story of her unravelling after her father’s death. How can words adequately represent the oceans of pain that swell and drown us? How can we make sense of grief, which often renders us senseless? How does one capture the magnitude of loss? Vanasco struggles with these questions in her memoir, the book Grief, Jeannie Vanasco writes in The Glass Eye, is inexplicable. To really describe it, one must often approach it adjacently through metaphor, as Vanasco does in her attempts to piece together the story of her unravelling after her father’s death. How can words adequately represent the oceans of pain that swell and drown us? How can we make sense of grief, which often renders us senseless? How does one capture the magnitude of loss? Vanasco struggles with these questions in her memoir, the book she promised her father she’d write for him. But it’s a different book than she’d envisioned; it’s the story of the human mind as it attempts to cope with the illogical. It’s her exploration of the devastation she suffered, the fine thread of her sanity barely holding her together. And, in a way, it’s what she always meant to write: in her mourning and her struggle to cope with a new reality, we see that at the heart of it all lies a woman whose love for her father is all-consuming, is extraordinary. An experimental memoir that would make Maggie Nelson proud, The Glass Eye is a literary tour de force, a hurricane of language and emotions that fly off the page, a testament to love and loss and how the lexicon of grief, though universal, is always a personal discourse. [Thank you to the lovely Tin House for the galley!]

  4. 4 out of 5

    Claire Fuller

    I loved this memoir about Vanasco's grief which spirals into mental illness after the death of her father. Although, perhaps the mental illness was there all along, it just took the death for it to properly manifest itself. This is something that Vanasco discusses in a wonderfully round-about way. The book is broken up into many very short pieces, all of which build and gather to give a really intimate view of what life is like for the author, and how she becomes obsessed by her dead half-sister I loved this memoir about Vanasco's grief which spirals into mental illness after the death of her father. Although, perhaps the mental illness was there all along, it just took the death for it to properly manifest itself. This is something that Vanasco discusses in a wonderfully round-about way. The book is broken up into many very short pieces, all of which build and gather to give a really intimate view of what life is like for the author, and how she becomes obsessed by her dead half-sister whom she was named for. I often felt like I was right inside Vanasco's head as she works things out on the page, and also right inside her present time, as she even grapples with editing her book (shout out to Masie Cochran from Tin House!). Highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A deeply affecting chronicle of grief and obsession, written in lucid, graceful prose.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    3.5 strong stars. Jeannie Vanasco bares her soul in The Glass Eye: A Memoir. There were times it made me squirm with discomfort. But it also touched my heart and made me appreciate her willingness to be vulnerable. The narrative thread is more of a spaghetti-like jumble of disparate elements. Vanasco illustrates both her writing process and her mental illness by jumping around thematically and chronologically. And yet, she finds a way to move forward in the memoir and life. At eighteen, Vanasco agr 3.5 strong stars. Jeannie Vanasco bares her soul in The Glass Eye: A Memoir. There were times it made me squirm with discomfort. But it also touched my heart and made me appreciate her willingness to be vulnerable. The narrative thread is more of a spaghetti-like jumble of disparate elements. Vanasco illustrates both her writing process and her mental illness by jumping around thematically and chronologically. And yet, she finds a way to move forward in the memoir and life. At eighteen, Vanasco agreed to write a book for her dad as he was dying. They were extraordinarily close, since she was born when he was older and had more opportunity to be her caregiver. Because of this strong bond, Vanasco suffers from a long and complicated grieving process. Her father also experienced horrible grief when his 16 year old daughter died in a car accident. Vanasco was given the same name (spelled slightly differently) as her half sister. Now add into the mix the author’s mental illness, and you can see the complexities of this memoir. Jeannie’s deepest grieving moments felt like a kick in the chest, yet my reaction was to feel so much compassion for her. I can’t imagine processing all this grief at such a young age. The Glass Eye isn’t a long book, but it took me a long time to read it. I’d read for a while, and start to feel overwhelmed with sadness. So I’d put the book down, and pick it up when I could face the pain again. But after a week or two of this, I decided to take a day and power through the last 100 pages. I’m glad I did, because that’s where the beginnings of resolution appear. I applaud Vanasco for her persistence in getting this book and her experiences on paper. She chose an incredibly difficult topic and handled it with skill. I’d pick up more of her work in the future, since I can’t help but feel some maternal instincts towards her. Although to say I enjoyed this book would be a stretch—that’s mostly due to the content not the writing style. I hope it gives Vanasco closure and the impetus to continue moving forward. I received a copy of The Glass Eye from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thanks, Tin House Books. Also published on TheBibliophage.com.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    TW: grief, death, mental health, self-harming, manic behaviour, hospitalisation for mental health I was introduced to Jeannie's writing via her second book, Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was A Girl, and I absolutely loved that book. My Father's Glass Eye is referenced during that book so I knew at some point I was going to pick this up. I did really enjoy this one - although enjoy almost feels like the wrong word when this book is so strongly centered in grief and loss. Memoir's are always a TW: grief, death, mental health, self-harming, manic behaviour, hospitalisation for mental health I was introduced to Jeannie's writing via her second book, Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was A Girl, and I absolutely loved that book. My Father's Glass Eye is referenced during that book so I knew at some point I was going to pick this up. I did really enjoy this one - although enjoy almost feels like the wrong word when this book is so strongly centered in grief and loss. Memoir's are always an interesting thing to read because they don't follow the general structure of what books do; they don't necessarily move the plot along because that's not what it is about. It's a reflection about what Jeannie has experienced in her life and how she deals with it. The writing feels manic at times but I feel that's a reflection of her mental illness and how she is feeling at the time; her thoughts are manic so why shouldn't her writing reflect that? It made it a hard read in a way, not as in difficult to read, but hard just getting an inch of insight into what she is experiencing and feeling and how she tries to navigate that as best she can. Definitely one worth reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    An absolutely beautiful exploration of family, grief, memory, and madness, this book is OUTSTANDING.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    The library books I check out to read are rarely pristine. Some have crumbs in the seams between pages, chocolatey thumb prints along the edges, coffee rings and splashes and drips. Some smell smoky, others smell of fried foods. This book, The Glass Eye by Jeannie Vanasco, carries a light floral scent. Someone who read it before me wore a pleasant not-too-aggressive perfume, something restrained yet reminiscent of summer. The book has been gently handled, appearing - except for the lingering sce The library books I check out to read are rarely pristine. Some have crumbs in the seams between pages, chocolatey thumb prints along the edges, coffee rings and splashes and drips. Some smell smoky, others smell of fried foods. This book, The Glass Eye by Jeannie Vanasco, carries a light floral scent. Someone who read it before me wore a pleasant not-too-aggressive perfume, something restrained yet reminiscent of summer. The book has been gently handled, appearing - except for the lingering scent - to be brand new. I try to read it with equal care though the dog is intrigued by the (to me) subtle smell of it and keeps poking his nose in for a sniff and a lick. I fend him off with an elbow and find stray bits of his shiny black fur fluttering down to meet the black type. I wonder about the person, presumably female by the scent, neat, tidy, cautious, who read this copy before me. It is clear from the description on the back of the book that things will soon grow chaotic. Did the lady of the flowery perfume finish the story? Did she enjoy breaking free from her carefully controlled life? Or did she start to become uncomfortable as it became clear how easily and quickly life can spin out of control? The Glass Eye as I write this is just by my right shoulder on the bedside table with a raft of other books, new, used, borrowed, bought. They each have a story over and above the one the author set out to tell. They come with telltale dents and tipped-down pages, with gummy spots on the back from "removable" price stickers, sometimes with someone else's bookmark forgotten inside. There are skin oils and skin cells, too, invisible to the eye. A secret script. All these extras come free with the loan or the purchase of a book. Whoever checks out this book next, I hope they sense the love my dog showed for the last one to hold it and the reader before that... Laura Hansen, March 11, 2017 author (poetry) of Deja Vu and Midnight River

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

    2.75? I don’t know! She acknowledges this but there’s really not much of a plot here. Which is valid, it’s a memoir not a novel, but I’m not sure what I was supposed to get out of it. It was a pretty easy quick read and some parts were interesting. I like the idea of commenting on your writing as like a meta part of the memoir but I don’t think it really worked, it felt forced.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Veronika

    yes

  12. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

    I don't think I've ever consciously sought out a memoir before this, although I doubt this counts, seeing as it was chosen as a book club book rather then by me browsing in a book store, and having finished it I'm at a loss trying to extrapolate on my thoughts. How do you review someone's life? It's astounding to me that people ever want to publish something so private, to have their personal experiences and struggles judged by strangers, but at the same time what does that say about the reader I don't think I've ever consciously sought out a memoir before this, although I doubt this counts, seeing as it was chosen as a book club book rather then by me browsing in a book store, and having finished it I'm at a loss trying to extrapolate on my thoughts. How do you review someone's life? It's astounding to me that people ever want to publish something so private, to have their personal experiences and struggles judged by strangers, but at the same time what does that say about the reader if you don't like it? Am I callous for not truly relating to the story? Am I heartless to slowly grow tired of her mental illness, of her fragmenting thoughts? This is more then a fictional tale where I can sit back and critique character composition and plot devices, this is someone's actual life, Vanacso's life as she views it, and even though she chose to put it out there in the public domain it seems somehow wrong to judge it, but it doesn't change the fact that while she displays a long, near endless description of her thoughts and feelings, these are thoughts that stuck with me throughout the reading. Vanasco's concept and composition is very unique to me. A story for a dad, dead at the age of 80, her declaration at his death bed is to immortalize the man he was to her forever within a published tome. She spends her time highlighting various subjects that contributed to the make up of it. From childhood snippets designed to encompass the man her father was, to the impact of his death on her psyche, her struggles with her name/namesake straight through the challenge of composing this book. It's a lot to try and shift through which it turn accurately reflects her declining mindset and her shifting moods. On this level it really is a fascinating read. She has the type of life that lends itself to voyeuristic perusal, interesting enough to garner attention and yet fantastic enough to garner incredulousness. Take for example an early vignette, her playing the memory game with her father at age 4. Vanasco is quick to defend the inclusion of it, validating the readers by acknowledging that it seems impossible that she could recall memories from the age of 4, detailed enough both to include in her narrative and yet imply that even memories such as these, small and old with inexplicable detail, could somehow have an effect on her psyche. So since she has acknowledged the problem with including such hard to defend memories, can I the reader still feel annoyed or disillusioned by it? And why does such a little detail continue to bother me as I move through the big picture of her life? What makes her a such a good writer is her ability to transfer her neurotic tenancies to the reader but it works twofold. On one level she is clearly and even cleverly making her points and illustrating her mental illness as she analyses and analyses word after word after word. As she ascribes meaning to seemingly coincidental occurrences and creates meta from homophones. But at the same time I find her neurotic analysis creeping in on my thoughts as I try to understand my feelings as they relate to her tale. It's well done and at the same time it creates a very unpleasant feeling, and sometimes I felt that her meta distracted from her story, that she could have left more room for the reader to puzzle out her meaning. With all the analysis Vanasco crams in between her riveting vignettes there is little place for the reader to form thoughts, be they feelings of agreement or not. Instead I feel as if I am a voyeur, with no place in the tale, who maybe shouldn't be here at all. So where does the Glass Eye leave me? Her mental illness is fascinating, Vanasco is a talented writer, her relationship with her dad is...interesting to say the least. But there were times where I wanted more understanding of certain things, I wanted more understanding of her external relationships. I kept wondering how so many people 'put up with her.' She constantly had support, she had a plethora of seemingly high quality jobs that would pause as her life spiraled out of control, only to start up again once she was ready for it. Although she has this mental illness to juggle it doesn't read as that detrimental to her day by day (yes I can see the descriptions of her breakdowns and she has some terrible moments), but it's almost as if external consequences pause while she deals with her internal struggles. But to remark on this, does that make me a bad person? Am I missing some universal truth that others have discovered within the narrative? It drives me batty to try and diagnose my reactions to her life. So in summary what can I say? It is riveting at times, fascinating during others, but sometimes it's annoying and repetitive. Sometimes I can relate and sometimes I have no idea how her journey can be what it is. I thank Vanasco for being brave enough to share and I'm sure there are people out there who will relate more then I can. It reads fast, it's a different perspective, it's just life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Lindsay

    A dark and gripping memoir about the intricacies of grief, obsession, madness, and more. When I came across a write-up of THE GLASS EYE: A Memoir, in a recent-ish POETS & WRITERS magazine, I knew I had to read it. And I'm so glad I did. Jeannie Vanasco's father died when she was an 18-year old college freshman. It's this catastrophic event that sends her into a spiraling tailspin, triggering her mental illness. Jeannie becomes obsessed with her father's death, but also a dead half-sister who sha A dark and gripping memoir about the intricacies of grief, obsession, madness, and more. When I came across a write-up of THE GLASS EYE: A Memoir, in a recent-ish POETS & WRITERS magazine, I knew I had to read it. And I'm so glad I did. Jeannie Vanasco's father died when she was an 18-year old college freshman. It's this catastrophic event that sends her into a spiraling tailspin, triggering her mental illness. Jeannie becomes obsessed with her father's death, but also a dead half-sister who shares her name. Years ago, Jeannie's father was married to someone else. They had four daughters, one of those daughters died in a horrific car accident when she was only 16. All along, Jeannie has made a promise to someday write a book for her father. This wasn't exactly the book she had in mind, but it's the one she wrote to better understand herself, her mental illness, her relationship with her dad. Told in a slightly fragmented series of vignettes, THE GLASS EYE reminded me a lot of the style and structure used in Rachel Khong's GOODBYE VITAMIN. Some may find the headings, 'MOM,' 'DAD,' 'JEANNIE' and 'MENTAL ILLNESS' slightly distracting, but there's a reason for them, as the author points out. Some reviewers mentioned the tendency for redundancy, and have to say, I think this was all part of the structural scope. THE GLASS EYE is much like grief in that sense; it's cyclical. Each time Vanesco mentions something again, it's with new clarity or insight. I loved her forays into mental illness, not because I wish that on anyone, but because it was handled with such raw authenticity that I truly appreciated. It's not anyone could bare their soul as eloquently as Vanasco, well done. THE GLASS EYE also incorporates many aspects of the writing life, home, mothers, and memory that makes it a truly unique read. Those who read and enjoyed PIECES OF MY MOTHER (Melissa Cistaro) will also enjoy THE GLASS EYE. Stay tuned, too for the forthcoming THE ART OF MISDIAGNOSIS (Gayle Brandeis). For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com Special thanks to Tin House Books for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    _bxllxe’s_turtles

    (4.5 ⭐️) When I tell you I couldn’t put this down…. The only reason I picked up this memoir was to see if, through it, I could feel a connection to my own mental health issues. Jeannie Valasco touched on things in this memoir that set little wings fluttering inside my chest. An uncomfortable recognition. She lives with far more serious symptoms than me, and still. I raced through the pages, feeling some semblance of sameness. When I tell you I laughed out loud… Jeannie’s Racing Thoughts should be ac (4.5 ⭐️) When I tell you I couldn’t put this down…. The only reason I picked up this memoir was to see if, through it, I could feel a connection to my own mental health issues. Jeannie Valasco touched on things in this memoir that set little wings fluttering inside my chest. An uncomfortable recognition. She lives with far more serious symptoms than me, and still. I raced through the pages, feeling some semblance of sameness. When I tell you I laughed out loud… Jeannie’s Racing Thoughts should be acknowledged as a leading character. I give you this passage as tribute: “I proceeded to explain that my parents had planned to name me Jeanne after a dead half sister. ‘Without an i’, I said. I began to tell my treatment team about my recent visit to Jeanne’s hometown. ‘I stayed with a woman named Genie. G-E-N-I-E.’ ‘You’re manic,” the psychiatrist alleged in a calm, impersonal tone. ‘But my father died ten years ago. And he named me—‘ ‘Your speech is pressured,’ he said. ‘Of course my speech is pressured. I’m trying to condense my life into ten minutes.’ I tried to tell him about my recent visit to my dad and Jeanne’s hometown. I tried to explain why the trip overwhelmed me. ‘Can you hear yourself?’ he asked. I thought: I here’d myself, I can leave.” When I tell you I cried… None of us wants to face the thing that isn’t right with us. Jeannie’s struggle to appear normal, or to even perceive exactly what isn’t normal within herself, hit very close to home. This is a love letter to Jeannie’s father, and it is an act of self-love. It is a naming of things and acceptance of them. It might not make sense to some, but it’s a damn good representation of how the bipolar mind works.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Meena Gharangik

    I really throughly enjoyed this book. In my english class, the theme of the books revolve around grief and we had read two other books that were great in their own ways, but I think that The Glass Eye stood out to me more than the other two. I say this because Vanasco's relationship with her parents and her closeness to them is something that I can relate to which makes the storyline more intriguing. I really appreciated how Vanasco structured her book with chapters and different headings within I really throughly enjoyed this book. In my english class, the theme of the books revolve around grief and we had read two other books that were great in their own ways, but I think that The Glass Eye stood out to me more than the other two. I say this because Vanasco's relationship with her parents and her closeness to them is something that I can relate to which makes the storyline more intriguing. I really appreciated how Vanasco structured her book with chapters and different headings within because it made it so much easier to follow, and we we able to get insight into how she organized events that have happened to her or feelings that she has into the different binders that she kept while writing the story. In addition to this, before each chapter she includes an excerpt that is more personal to her and is about how she is feeling while writing the book and I think that these sections of the book really aid in clarifying certain things and in a way demonstrates her struggle with herself while writing the book and I really liked having that perspective along side how she interpreted the moments with her father and everything that happened after his death. The metaphors that she wove into the storyline were also very unique and at one point in the book, she said that she wanted to pull away from the metaphors and while at times I may not have understood all of the metaphors I found it interesting to try and interpret them in the way that they were supposed to be.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Rose

    An accomplished memoir rendered in a unique, productive form. I felt, at times, emotionally slayed by this work. Vanasco manages to illustrate grief's sprawling and nonsensical processes in highly organized sections, which allows the reader to wander through her grief and mental illness without ever feeling overwhelmed or lost. Further, her craft is fantastic. I look forward to her forthcoming book. An accomplished memoir rendered in a unique, productive form. I felt, at times, emotionally slayed by this work. Vanasco manages to illustrate grief's sprawling and nonsensical processes in highly organized sections, which allows the reader to wander through her grief and mental illness without ever feeling overwhelmed or lost. Further, her craft is fantastic. I look forward to her forthcoming book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael B Tager

    I loved this book. So sad and beautiful and fascinating to read. A mixture of grief and memory and honest depiction of mental illness. The meta-narrative absolutely worked for me. It's a weird catharsis to read someone else's catharsis, which is, I suppose, part of the memoir genre. But whatever. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Vanasco is the real deal. I loved this book. So sad and beautiful and fascinating to read. A mixture of grief and memory and honest depiction of mental illness. The meta-narrative absolutely worked for me. It's a weird catharsis to read someone else's catharsis, which is, I suppose, part of the memoir genre. But whatever. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Vanasco is the real deal.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book took my breath away. I read it in one sitting; I didn't want to turn away. I keep returning to the scenes, the sentences, the words and marveling at what Jeannie Vanasco has accomplished. I feel privileged that she shared her father's story - and her story - with the world. This book took my breath away. I read it in one sitting; I didn't want to turn away. I keep returning to the scenes, the sentences, the words and marveling at what Jeannie Vanasco has accomplished. I feel privileged that she shared her father's story - and her story - with the world.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    A unique approach on memoir. Very interesting correlations, coincidences and alliterations. I really appreciated the author’s insight and journey. My name is really Jeannie, but I go by Jean.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Galilea Sejas

    Before reading this book, I had a strict idea of how a memoir would typically be formatted: with an outline of a person’s life from the earliest events that they can recall to the date in which a relative passed away or a traumatic event happened to him/her. Fortunately, Jeannie Vanasco eradicated this seemingly clear-cut idea that I had regarding the format and content of a memoir. With Vanasco’s meta-commentary and organizational style, it allowed readers to understand her mental process when Before reading this book, I had a strict idea of how a memoir would typically be formatted: with an outline of a person’s life from the earliest events that they can recall to the date in which a relative passed away or a traumatic event happened to him/her. Fortunately, Jeannie Vanasco eradicated this seemingly clear-cut idea that I had regarding the format and content of a memoir. With Vanasco’s meta-commentary and organizational style, it allowed readers to understand her mental process when writing the book, as well as her reflection of her past. The one thing that I would always remember about her memoir was not the fact that she included moments of her writing process, but also how she separated her thoughts by people or ideas that were most influential to her. She includes “Mom,” “Dad” and “Mental Illness,” as different sections to separate her independent thoughts that were related to each other. She speaks openly about her past and reflects upon her relationships with people, specifically her romantic ones. Now for most authors, they may feel inclined to give you a taste of understanding every person that has influenced them or include every romantic endeavor that they had; not Vanasco. She doesn’t even include or mention the opposite sex in a romantic light, until the middle or late beginning of the book, since there wasn’t any relevant content to include in regards to her coming of age or father, which is what the book was actually about. It seems apparent that Vanasco does not need to capitalize on events that were most influential to her, for she instead, focuses on the metaphors and meanings behind each one, as well as how everything in her life is seemingly connected. The idea that everything happens for a reason or that life is a metaphor, or rather has multiple hidden metaphors that we do not reflect/understand until later in life, is something that readers become open to because of Vanasco’s beautiful memoir. Her father would be proud of the book that she has written.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pegah Alizadeh

    I loved this memoir about Vanasco’s grief. It is brilliant to me that she decided to publish something so private, to let her personal traumas and struggles judged by the world. In his memoir, Vanasco represents a larger human tendency to search deeply in life for a greater meaning in the events we experience on a daily basis by the employment of metaphor. Her father dies around the age of onset of her mental disease. Her obsessive behavior creates an obsessive employment of metaphor throughout t I loved this memoir about Vanasco’s grief. It is brilliant to me that she decided to publish something so private, to let her personal traumas and struggles judged by the world. In his memoir, Vanasco represents a larger human tendency to search deeply in life for a greater meaning in the events we experience on a daily basis by the employment of metaphor. Her father dies around the age of onset of her mental disease. Her obsessive behavior creates an obsessive employment of metaphor throughout the book and her tendency to connect words by sound rather than meaning, clang association, creates a link between her mental illness and the desire to write this memoir. Vanasco was too distressed to admit that she has a mental disease and needs help before her condition becomes more critical. Her misperception about her feelings and hallucinations implies that she is unaware of the nature of her mental disease. I could connect to this book on so many levels. I have a family history of bipolar disorder and as a child, my mother’s obsessive behavior and extreme mood swings was very confusing for me. After reading this book I could understand some of my mother’s behavior better. I felt emotionally slayed by this work. There were times that I felt discomfort, but it also made me appreciate her vulnerability. Her mental illness is fascinating, but I wanted more understanding of the nature of her mental illness. There was no certain diagnosis for her mental disorder in the novel. I think it would help a lot of people if she had clarified that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This book might better be titled "Writer's Block." Unlike Sylvia Plath, who was mad at her father, or James Elroy, who just wanted to find out about his mother's last days, this book is a discontinuous series of brief histories or anecdotes about the author's father, and how she wanted to write a book that would honor him, as well as a seemingly endless hunt for her deceased half-sister of the same name as the author. The book is divided into four interspersing topics: Dad, Mom, Mental Illness, a This book might better be titled "Writer's Block." Unlike Sylvia Plath, who was mad at her father, or James Elroy, who just wanted to find out about his mother's last days, this book is a discontinuous series of brief histories or anecdotes about the author's father, and how she wanted to write a book that would honor him, as well as a seemingly endless hunt for her deceased half-sister of the same name as the author. The book is divided into four interspersing topics: Dad, Mom, Mental Illness, and Jeanne, the dead half-sister. The author says that everyone in her writing group said that the most interesting sections came under Mental Illness, and I would agree with that. Her many hospitalizations and attempted diagnoses, from bipolar to borderline to schizophrenic to obsessive-compulsive are fascinating and equivocal. She evidently receives a lot of incompetent psychiatric care. She clearly has OCD, but overlaid with hearing voices and strange delusions, which might be schizotypal. Some sections of the book are wandering and don't forward the action. The Mental Illness sections are fascinating and somewhat bizarre. Ultimately, despite finding her half-sister's grave and talking to several of her half-sister's high school classmates who spoke fondly of her before she died in a car accident in high school, the book doesn't have much resolution by the end. Parts of it are fascinating, parts of it are rather redundant. It's interesting, but not as fulfilling as Elroy's My Dark Places. It's certainly worth reading, however.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mohsin Imtiaz

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Glass Eye is a very unique and diligent memoir written tribute to a father. This book made me remember my glorious childhood and relation with my father. Jeannie Vanasco has given a fine new voice to many people with her novel. The eagerness of obsession to find the reason behind the anonymous love of father and daughter. A distinctive story is hidden in a novel to explore the love and grief at the same time. The book appealed to me by the title "The Glass Eye" which made me wonder to read i The Glass Eye is a very unique and diligent memoir written tribute to a father. This book made me remember my glorious childhood and relation with my father. Jeannie Vanasco has given a fine new voice to many people with her novel. The eagerness of obsession to find the reason behind the anonymous love of father and daughter. A distinctive story is hidden in a novel to explore the love and grief at the same time. The book appealed to me by the title "The Glass Eye" which made me wonder to read it. An artificial eye made by Jeannie to explore the answer to her questions.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Esta Doutrich

    I almost dropped this book 50 pages because I was reading so many memoirs and it wasn’t holding me. I’m so glad I kept going. This book is about grief and mental illness, but that seems too simple a description for the layers, the prose, the intertwining of illness, love, obsession, and grief. I loved it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Incredible journey through love and grief from loss of a parent.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    I was very confused with this book. I have a mental illness and still couldn’t find out what kind of illness she had. It’s sad to see an extraordinary person lose herself because of deep grief. The amount of times Jeannie was in and out of the hospitals was consuming. I am glad that she shared her life experience to help others who are struggling. If she got through it, everyone else can. Don’t left grief take over your body. Go to therapy and be with friends of family relatives if you can.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Helen Zuman

    I read the first few pages of The Glass Eye a few days ago; then, a couple nights later, I took it to bed with me and stayed up way too late to finish it. Yup, it's gripping. Initially, I didn't expect this book to be a page-turner, thanks to its many section breaks and its pauses for meta-narration. But, despite its gentle fracturing, the story hews to a strong chronological through-line (the protagonist's journey through her father's death and her consuming grief to a degree of peace), and has I read the first few pages of The Glass Eye a few days ago; then, a couple nights later, I took it to bed with me and stayed up way too late to finish it. Yup, it's gripping. Initially, I didn't expect this book to be a page-turner, thanks to its many section breaks and its pauses for meta-narration. But, despite its gentle fracturing, the story hews to a strong chronological through-line (the protagonist's journey through her father's death and her consuming grief to a degree of peace), and has clear stakes: the protagonist's health and sanity, her mother's trust in her father's honesty, the protagonist's access to the truth of how her sister died. Also, Vanasco's clear, spare, flawless prose makes for a smooth ride, free of linguistic speed bumps. Like another reviewer, I wondered, while reading, whether Vanasco was contesting her diagnosis of mental illness; part of me wanted to know exactly where she stood on the subject. However, I also see the value of letting the reader make her own judgments, and leaving room for the kind of ambiguity that arises when we allow ourselves to question our basic assumptions about mental health and mental illness (I remember reading an interview in The Sun magazine in which the interviewee said that the proper response to someone who hears voices is to ask that person what those voices have to say). What I get from Vanasco's approach is a desire to shed light on all facets of her protagonist's complex and whirling consciousness, without condemning any of them as needing to be cut out. As a fellow memoirist (and former MFA student), I was especially interested in Vanasco's portrayal of her MFA experience - to which, it seemed to me, she applied the same agnosticism with which she treats her mental illness. At one point, she lists a number of criticisms (of her work) received from fellow students - just lists them, without comment. Are they helpful? Ridiculously off base? It's unclear. Maybe they're simply fascinating objects of study, for a mind that constantly files, dissects, combines, and recombines.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Solia Martinez-Jacobs

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was sent an Advanced Readers Copy, as part of the Book of the Month Reader's committee. Jeannie Vanasco weaves a tangled narrative about her father, grief, her own mental health, and the struggle of being named after her dead half sister. Although the plot summary is so fantastic that the book sounds like a work of fiction, it is in fact, a memoir. The narrative is best described as experimental: she talks about her writing process, where she vacillates between binders labeled "Mom", "Dad", "J I was sent an Advanced Readers Copy, as part of the Book of the Month Reader's committee. Jeannie Vanasco weaves a tangled narrative about her father, grief, her own mental health, and the struggle of being named after her dead half sister. Although the plot summary is so fantastic that the book sounds like a work of fiction, it is in fact, a memoir. The narrative is best described as experimental: she talks about her writing process, where she vacillates between binders labeled "Mom", "Dad", "Jeanne" & "Mental Illness". Part one of the book deals with Jeannie, Jeanne and life with her father. When he dies, almost immediately after Jeannie leaves for college, she begins to unravel. As I said, in Part two, the narrative becomes more stream of consciousness/experimental, as Jeannie struggles with her mental health. My sister is also struggling with bipolar disorder, and being around her is very tough because she's so manic. Jeannie's writing perfectly embodies that. She makes connections that only she can see, does things she can't remember and then have to be pointed out to her. Jeannie Vanasco writes with a raw honesty. The story isn't about her father, Jeanne, or the glass eye. It's a peek into her mind after love, and the struggle with loss. This is a quick read, but as I said, don't expect a linear narrative. This definitely may turn some readers off, but if you make it through, you will enjoy it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    Probably one of the hardest memoirs I’ve read so far. I think it hits on an incredibly relatable level. Both pieces - her coping with the death of her father (her everything for a long period of her life) coupled with her mental illness (exacerbated by grief). It’s incredibly powerful in its honesty and painfully vivid at times which can be overwhelming. She sprinkles in her own blend of humor (abs) and allows the narrative to lighten as well. We’ve all lost someone incredibly important and it’s Probably one of the hardest memoirs I’ve read so far. I think it hits on an incredibly relatable level. Both pieces - her coping with the death of her father (her everything for a long period of her life) coupled with her mental illness (exacerbated by grief). It’s incredibly powerful in its honesty and painfully vivid at times which can be overwhelming. She sprinkles in her own blend of humor (abs) and allows the narrative to lighten as well. We’ve all lost someone incredibly important and it’s hard to think that loss hasn’t manifested in something that’s visible in our every day forward. It feels good to not feel alone in how, often, being strong just means being capable of internalizing - to our own self detriment. I think to my grandad and how that grief (and my constant vision of it being my father instead) led to what I’d attribute to the dawn of my OCD tendencies. I’d always had anxiety, but the real pieces fell into place when it was triggered out of grief. It’s incredibly empowering to see someone else witness the same issues of trying to express the grief while everyone only wants to focus on the illness or the label.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Squirrel Circus

    So, the universe owed me a REALLY good book this week, after a few so-so choices, and The Glass Eye definitely delivered. I raced through the 270+ pages in only a few days... Jeannie Vanasco has written a memoir that I find so incredibly moving and meaningful that I am wondering a little if I feel so strongly about it because I closely identify with her mental "unraveling" that takes places alongside of her grief over the loss of father. What makes this memoir so, well, MEMORABLE, is Vanasco's p So, the universe owed me a REALLY good book this week, after a few so-so choices, and The Glass Eye definitely delivered. I raced through the 270+ pages in only a few days... Jeannie Vanasco has written a memoir that I find so incredibly moving and meaningful that I am wondering a little if I feel so strongly about it because I closely identify with her mental "unraveling" that takes places alongside of her grief over the loss of father. What makes this memoir so, well, MEMORABLE, is Vanasco's pacing, structure, and her discerning selection of "scenes" or vignettes from throughout her entire life, as well as the life of her father. The Glass Eye never drags, and every chapter and/or smaller section (often divided by bolded headers, like MOM, DAD, JEANNE, JEANNIE, MENTAL ILLNESS) is an important piece of Vanasco's narrative. Vanasco has done the kind of "detective" work that is so valuable to anyone searching for answers, to family secrets or to our own inner selves. Fantastic read!

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