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"Smart, affecting, and self-critically probing: a balm for anyone who has lost a loved one long before death." --Kirkus Reviews
"Loudon's book is a moving and loving testament to a messy, complicated life. A-"--Entertainment Weekly Relative Stranger
is the powerful, uncompromising memoir of Mary Loudon's search to understand the facts about the deeply troubling final years of her dead sister, Catherine. Mary, the youngest in a happy, upper-middle-class London family, had not seen Catherine for what would be the last twelve years of Catherine's life. After discovering that Catherine had been "inhabiting the identity" of a man called Stevie, Mary plunges into a postmortem investigation, interviewing doctors, nurses, social-services representatives, nuns, caf owners, grocers, and ministers who knew Catherine. Loudon paints a portrait that lays bare the pain of schizophrenia as well as its vexing complexities. In the vein of Jeanette Walls's best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle
, Relative Stranger
is an honest account of how schizophrenia affected a promising young life while exploring the assumptions people make about mental illness and what it means to love, to lose, to die, and, above all, to belong.