Back of the Yard
by Meg Lelvis
Black Rose Writing

"The question of why Mama and Daddy sent me away still lingered. "

Betty O'Leary, the youngest child born into an Irish Catholic family during the trials of the Great Depression, grows up in a "vibrant, dirty, tough, foul-smelling, colorful, and compassionate" neighborhood in the shadow of the Chicago Union Stockyards. When tragedy strikes her family, her mother experiences a mental episode that leaves her unable to cope with the mechanics of everyday life. Consequently, Betty is sent to live with an aunt and uncle, an experience that leads to feelings of being unwanted and unloved. As she grows older, marries, and becomes a mother herself, she begins to have fears that she may also suffer from mental illness. Can she and her siblings ever come to terms with the psychological damage inflicted by their tragic childhood, or will they forever be prisoners of the past?

This compelling novel is a study of the psychological impact of tragedy. It examines the depths of despair brought on by great loss and the effects of mental illness on the family. The novel also probes the history of the treatment of mental illness. Lelvis is a gifted storyteller with a knack for writing natural dialogue and creating authentic and believable characters. The author pens an intriguing examination of a family in crisis. From her childhood innocence to her adult fear and desperation, the protagonist's voice exudes an honesty that permeates throughout the narrative. Heart-wrenching moments of emotional struggle are presented with insight and compassion. Overall, this book is a fascinating read that one will not soon forget.

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