Nobody's Child by Marie Balter and Richard Katz | Teen Ink

Nobody's Child by Marie Balter and Richard Katz

January 19, 2015
By Evos96 GOLD, Holliston, Massachusetts
Evos96 GOLD, Holliston, Massachusetts
10 articles 8 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't let schooling interfere with your education -Mark Twain

The memoir of Marie Balter is one of triumph and faith.  This book, Nobody’s Child written by Marie Balter and Richard Katz documents the life of a woman circling through mental hospitals for over twenty years. Marie never has an easy life. She is born in 1930 in Gloucester, Massachusetts and her alcoholic mother names her Pat. By the time she reaches her 5th birthday, she is in the care of new parents, the Bartellos. Under the authority of her new Ma and Pa, Pat becomes Marie, and Marie becomes a restricted child forced to obey strict rules. Throughout her time with the Bartellos Marie must hide emotions from her father, and must endure harsh punishments for any misbehavior. Here in this household, Marie is first introduced to the Catholic lifestyle enforced by Ma. However, Marie begs to be taken to Boston away from Ma and Pa because she cannot handle her life there anymore. After a rough transition, Marie is admitted to a hospital for depression by a social worker named Mrs. Lancaster. Despite attempts to help her, the hospital admits Marie to Sutton State hospital, or the “Castle”. For years she remains in the many different wards of the hospital and is given many different types of controversial therapies including shock therapy and intensive drug therapy. She creates strong friendships with Dr. Baylor and Miss Wendall that carry on even after Marie is discharged.  After dealing for years with severe anxiety attacks and depression, Marie is determined to overcome her illness and with time, she gets reality together and manages to make a full recovery and lives on her own.  She eventually meets Joe Balter, a former patient of the Castle, and they fall deeply in love and end up getting married. Even after dealing with both cancer, and the death of Joe, Marie gets her degree at Harvard University. From there she continues working with mentally ill patients through creating many programs, and eventually she becomes a public speaker and she advocates for the release of mentally ill patients out in the real world.
Throughout the novel, Marie continuously connects her experiences and choices back to her faith in God, and her determination to live a life away from the chains of depression. Marie also makes the point of how dependence on others can be a dangerous affliction. Many times her fears come from the realization that she needs others to survive. She must break the need for others and strive for independence. These ideas are well used and very appropriately used throughout the entire memoir. The reader understands the cause of her sickness based on the details given in her childhood and how they relate and cause subsequent symptoms later in life.  This, as a result, adds a great flow to the book.
This book is incredibly insightful and shocking. It provides a perspective to the life of seriously misunderstood people living within the walls of a mental hospital. I enjoyed reading every page and knowing the cause of her affliction added a sense of excitement to the reading process. In my opinion, this book needs to read by anyone who glances at it resting on a bookshelf.

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