Title & Author: The Sun King, Allison Lee Palmer
Publication Date & Publisher: October 2017, Open Books
Genre(s): General (Adult) Fiction
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
Description (from Goodreads):
A mother, her son, and mania.
In this fictionalized memoir, a mother recounts the emotional journey she and her son take when he becomes mentally ill.
Jack is known as the Sun King because as a child he resembled the illustrated boy in his mother’s deck of tarot cards. Already on the verge of madness, Jack leaves for college in Ohio but secretly decides not to take his medicine. When Jack becomes manic, his mother must retrieve him from a psychiatric hospital and bring him home to Oklahoma. She and Jack spend the next year dealing with court hearings, doctor appointments, and counseling sessions precipitated by his bipolar disorder and resultant psychosis.
Guiding Jack back to sanity leads his mother to a fateful decision—one that brings about her own emotional unraveling. In the end, it is the Sun King who must save his mother.
This book started out absolutely amazing!!! By Chapter 3, I was beginning to send out texts and Snaps to my friends letting them know they NEED to read this ASAP! It’s a story about a very serious issue and situation that’s told in a way that’s sometimes hilarious, other times serious or sarcastic, and always deeply emotional.
The Sun King tells the story of the narrator and her only son, Jack, who is suffering from mental illness. The story begins with his latest stint in a mental hospital after he’s stopped taking his meds (again.)
When Jack’s mom discovered he wasn’t taking his medicine, she began searching for ways to help her son. She searched the internet and tried, unsuccessfully, to help with the herbal remedies she bought at the local health store.
The entire story is told from Jack’s mother’s perspective. I found myself laughing often at her view of the days when Jack’s illness was just starting to manifest itself. Having a daughter who recently graduated high school and began her first year of college with extreme, almost crippling anxiety, I related to her a lot. At times, she seemed to be too close to the situation to recognize the signs that her son was ill. I know I’ve been in that same situation… too close to my daughter to see clearly that she’s about to break down on me.
So I was emotionally attached to both Jack and his mother very early on in this story! When I read this:
In retrospect, I would argue that not only should the purchase of copious amounts of aluminum foil and cardboard be a warning sign at least mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but the constant need for high drama should also be noted in the DSM, because all together they can only lead to the building of this spaceship that matches the criteria for Bipolar Disorder I. But I didn’t know that until later.
I knew this mother and I were the same… I could hear my daughter explaining the need for the materials and my response being “Yeah, that seems legit, baby. Of course… here’s some more foil.”
Despite Jack being the one with the illness, his mom’s life is also flipped completely upside down and she herself begins to spiral out of control. At times, she thinks she’d be happier if Jack had cancer or was missing an arm instead of suffering the way he is. What makes it even harder to bear, is the fact that she’s doing so much and constantly sacrificing for son, and he doesn’t even seem capable of caring or understanding what she’s going through herself.
To give you some kind of an idea on how much I loved this book, let me explain how my reading speed varies between books… Basically, the speed at which I read is entirely dependent upon my enjoyment level of the material being read. So a book I’m kinda into, but not exactly thrilled with might take me weeks to read, while the same length book that I AM thrilled with might take a day or two…
I read The Sun King in about 6 hours… a good indication that I LOVED the book! But…
the end… it…
Let me down.
I’m not completely sure what I expected, or what I wanted, or how I saw things ending, but the way it actually ended was definitely not satisfying for me. I still want to know what happened…I feel like without that knowledge, the story just isn’t over. Perhaps that’s what the author intended, but unless it’s a series, I just hate these type of open-ended, no indication of happily ever (or never) after, vague endings.
So overall, I still recommend reading The Sun King. I enjoyed the majority of the book so much that even the ending didn’t make me regret reading it.
I received a review copy of this book from Open Books. This in no way influenced my review.
What do you think of my review of The Sun King? Have you read it or are you planning on reading it in the future? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!