cover image Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness

Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness

Jessie Close, with Pete Earley. Grand Central, $27 (300p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4882-8

In a heartfelt journey through self-destructive manic-depressive states, Close (The Warping of Al) chronicles her journey to recovery and activism with the help of actress Glenn Close, her older sister. The author was born in Connecticut in 1953, the youngest of the four Close children. After their parents, doctor Bill and Bettina, became missionaries in the Christian evangelical group Moral Re-Armament (MRA), the family moved to the Belgian Congo in 1960, where Bill became the personal physician to Colonel Joseph Mobutu and his army. Shuttled between Africa and her mother’s relatives in Greenwich, Conn., the young author stumbled into destructive behavior without much supervision, experimenting with sex and drugs; at the age of 17, her parents encouraged her to get married to an abusive boyfriend rather than “living in sin.” Close moved to California; Washington, D.C.; Texas; and Wyoming, remarrying again and again and living on her trust fund. Her manic-depressive episodes remained undiagnosed into adulthood and brought out erratic behavior and heavy drinking, even as she had to care for her two sons and daughter. By the early 1990s she was having wild mood swings and suicidal thoughts, until she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Close’s story alternates with brief corroborative vignettes written by her sister in a belabored and grim memoir that will nonetheless reach its intended audience thanks to the author’s famous sister and their shared nonprofit group geared toward mental health, Bring Change 2 Mind. (Jan.)