Out of Tune: Scenes from a Misbegotten Life
Outskirts Press, Inc. (2022)
Reviewed by Ashley Hooker for Reader Views (10/2022)
Victoria Maiden is a woman who describes herself as a terminal misfit. From an early age, she began experiencing the life altering effects of mental illness. When her family moved from New York to Florida, her life was altered forever. She was only 12 years old.
“Out of Tune Scenes from a Misbegotten Life” is her story. From the beginning, she shares her purpose for writing this book. She wants others to get a close-up view of mental illness. Maiden feels that so many in our society don’t understand what a person with mental illness feels, thinks, experiences, and hides from them. This is a story that opens that door wide open.
Maiden begins by explaining when her life started. From early on, she had a less than desired relationship with her parents, especially her mother. She knew she was different, but communicating the difference was hard. As she entered her college years, questions about sexuality rose and thoughts of suicide emerged. Her scenes telling of her rendezvouses and long-term relationships with men and women, her extra curriculars in the clubs, and interactions with co-workers are proof of an earning for love and acceptance.
She also shares her difficulties with holding a job. After losing her job as a paralegal, it was as if she could not get back up. The world had shifted for her. Losing her parents and brother changed things. And then Covid-19 struck the world. For a person with mental illness, these life events can exasperate the darkness that is already there.
Personally, I am a woman who is diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I have bi-polar tendencies. So, on many levels I can relate to Maiden. Her words describing the need for sunlight struck a chord with me. I also prefer sunlight to florescent. The walks in the park she took are like the ones I take around my yard. On page 32 of her book, she states, “the person interacting with me was not talking to the real me, but to an actor playing the part.” For years, this described my every movement and conversation with everyone. I was always fine, and I was always trying to lose the massive amount of weight I lost.
I admit reading this book was hard. There were many scenes that I could relate to, and I didn’t want to relate to them. I also struggled reading about the lesbian relationships Maiden had. I felt they were too graphic. But I did love the use of descriptive language. When she used words like pregnant, brutal, sour, and unsparing, her story came to life.
Overall, Maiden accurately explains her everyday life of being a person with mental illness. Her story sheds light on what those of us with mental illness face on a daily basis. I would recommend this book to adults only due to the mature nature of the subject.