TITLE: Hidden Valley Road
AUTHOR: Robert Kolker
PUB. YEAR: 2020
Rating - 3.5/5
Hidden Valley Road is a well-written, yet often upsetting, story about one family devastated by mental illness.
Mimi and Don Galvin were married in 1945 and had (12) children. The first (10) were boys and the last (2) were girls. The family, at least in the 50s and 60s seemed to be an all American family. Don a driven man, military service and then a successful businessman. He was a womanizer and rarely home but, wife Mimi, held down the fort overseeing things on the home front. Things changed in the 1970s when (6) of the couple's boys were diagnosed with schizophrenia. As the sons behavior and violence grew more out of control, they boys spent time in hospitals as their diagnosis was not well understood. Their story became the subject of research by the National Institute of Health.
The author does a great job with research and interviews from medical professionals to family members. Everyone from Mimi to all of the adult siblings spoken often had different stories to report. I was fascinated by the more technical aspects of this book regarding mental illness advances and breakthroughs. I found it difficult to get through some of the details in which the young sisters were sexually abused by older brothers when they were as young as 5 years of age. Some of the abuse was pretty specific.
I couldn't help from being a bit judgmental as I read. I didn't understand Mini's mindset. She had a husband who was rarely home, he was a womanizer and yet she bore (12) children with him. How do you fail to protect your other younger or more vulnerable children from the violent ones suffering from mental illness. I definitely can't say that I'm happy I read this book. Not only was it upsetting at times it also felt repetitive as well. Again, while the medical component was deep and informative, I would have preferred more editing and less detail about the harsh reality of the family dysfunction.