Three Shoeboxes: A Novel. Steven Manchester. Fiction Studio Books. Copyright June, 2018. pb. 262 pp.; ASIN #: Bo7BN465JD. .
Jen and Mack are celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary, and it’s clear they are still very much in love. They love their three children as well and Mack knows how to be friend but more important mentor to their growing up. On that special day of celebrating their relationship, they see an accident and Mack’s world spins totally out of control. All of a sudden, he finds his chest tightening, his head aching, and feeling unable to catch a breath, along with sweats and a racing heart. He ignores it initially but when it reoccurs several times, he goes to get help at the hospital. There some insensitive nurses confirm behind the screen that he’s having panic attacks; they treat it like no big deal. But it’s a very big, big deal that continues and even escalates.
Mack will eventually get help but not before his personality undergoes a dramatic change borne of fear and he winds up making his wife and children dread to be around him because they fear his drunken and sober rages. Jen realizes she needs to protect her children and so she takes appropriate legal action. Mack is at risk for losing his job. So many losses but Mack finally surrenders and begins the process of healing he so desperately needs through help for his PTSD, alcoholism, and panic attacks.
No more about the plot which readers will find very intense. What is remarkable about this brutally honest story is the expression of support and growth evident in the letters that Mack writes to his children, later to his wife, and those of his wife – all written but not sent until the perfect moment. Manchester’s ability to depict the deepest emotions realistically and poignantly is noteworthy.
One would like to hope this is a rare account but most of us know it’s not. Whether the cause is war or a horrible event one experiences but represses, PTSD is an all too real, horrific state that can make or break a person unless one receives professional help. Faith is easy until one enters an unbelievable state of hell and the road back or forward is wonderfully presented in this memorable, compassionate account. Highly recommended – read it and pass it on to others. Recognizing the symptoms is half of the healing process. Once again, finely crafted, Steven Manchester!