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How We Got Barb Back
The Story of My Sisterís Reawakening after 30 Years of Schizophrenia
Margaret Hawkins
ISBN: 9781573244770
Book (Paperback)
Red Wheel
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
256 pages
September 1, 2010


"This is a heartwarming story of a family's struggle to come to terms with severe mental illness and find hope and love on the other side. What it shows us, once again, is that most of what we think we know about mental illness is just plain wrong." -Mark Vonnegut

"A moving yet down-to-earth portrayal of what's it like to live with a serious mental illness. Hawkins affirms the hope of recovery for millions of others like Barb." -Linda Rosenberg, MSW, President and CEO, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
Margaret Hawkins spent her girlhood dazzled by her vivacious, high-achieving sister, Barb. Younger than Barb by eleven years, Margaret saw her sister as the star of her family. And no wonder. Barb's high school years were filled with achievement inside and outside of the classroom. After college, Barb married a charming young professor, Karim Shallal, and embraced living abroad with him, when he was offered a full professorship at Basra University in Iraq. That was in 1971.

In three years, everything changed. As Margaret Hawkins writes in her new book, How We Got Barb Back: The Story of My Sister's Reawakening after 30 Years of Schizophrenia, "On a promising day in 1974, my family's life blew up. That was the day my beautiful, bright, and very American older sister returned from Iraq. Something had changed during those years she was gone, and the Barb we knew never really returned. That Barb had vanished, and though her husband tried to bring her home, she was already gone."

Unimaginable as it might seem, for the next 32 years Barb went undiagnosed and untreated. How We Got Barb Back recounts the story of those years and the steps Margaret Hawkins took to bring her sister back from the depths of crippling mental illness. This story of sisterly love is both full of surprises and profoundly inspiring.

Margaret Hawkins is a writer, critic, curator and educator whose reviews and essays have appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, ARTNews, and many other publications. She teaches writing at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and is the author of A Year of Cats and Dogs and How to Survive a Natural Disaster. (Photo: Andrew Wehde)
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Foreword by Carolyn S. Spiro, MD, coauthor of Divided Minds

Praise for Margaret Hawkinsí debut novel, A Year of Cats and Dogs: "Hawkins spins an offbeat and delightful tale of a midlife anti-crisis." -Publishers Weekly

Red Wheel/Weiser - World English

Sample Content:
Foreword and Chapter 1