Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I've Been Reading: A Lethal Inheritance by Victoria Costello

Do not let the tile throw you, this is not a drama filled thriller.  Rather, it is a moving account of the author's exploration into her family tree, as well as societal norms, in the area of mental illness.  A Lethal Inheritance: A Mother Uncovers The Science Behind Three Generations of Mental Illness by Victorica Costello is a gripping piece of creative non-fiction.

Organized into three parts, and just over 200 pages long, the author has an excellent mix of personal accounts combined with sociological and scientific data.  The mother of two teenage boys, she is forced to examine the reality of mental illness in her family tree, and herself, when her oldest son is diagnosed as schizophrenic.

From her grandfather to her parents to herself and finally to both of her sons, she pries behind the denial and learns the truth.  With it discovers the increased risk her sons carried in their genetic make-up to developing mental health problems.

The final section of her book includes 10 steps parents can take to minimize the risk of a child developing mental health, which includes: focusing on prenatal health; treating your own mental health problems,  and the importance of family dinners.

Whether your interest is in family trees, mental interests or memoirs -- you will find something to enjoy in this book.


Victoria Costello said...

Hi Melinda, My google tracker led me here to your review of my book, A Lethal Inheritance. Thank you for reading and writing so thoughtfully and positively about it. I want to encourage you and your readers to visit my website, http://www.mentalhealthmomblog.com where I post about new research and strategies for maintaining or regaining family mental health. Cheers!

Melinda Gustafson Gervasi said...


You are welcome. I have recommended the book to one of our sitters; she just finished her masters degree and is working with youth that have mental health challenges.

Thanks for sharing your story, and commenting on my blog.