As inscribed in his book, THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED,
In Four Rooms, Upstairs, Linda Appleman Shapiro offers a compelling family history, addressing issues of love, loss and loyalty as she takes the reader back to her childhood in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn during the 1940's and 50's, and to her life with a mother suffering from mental illness.
Sharing memories from years before modern day advancements were achieved in medicine and psychiatry, we see her family struggle to survive in an age when the words, "mental illness" were rarely uttered and dysfunctional families did not appear on prime time television.
It was a time when her family's "secret" hovered over each of its members, when loved ones, as well as the patients themselves, were tortured by the ordeal of the disease, left anxious by the experience, and hungry for explanations.
Exploring the process in which she learned to accept her own dark side while honoring her strengths, Shapiro speaks to all who have grown up threatened and haunted by unexplained terror. Her story, however, is not only about the ravages of mental illness; it specifically addresses the need to re-define and re-invent ourselves in order to rise above trauma.
Yet, it is also a story not simply about survival but about how to survive, to which all readers are able to relate.
With the insight of a seasoned psychotherapist and as a witness to the human capacity for pain and survival, she helps us understand the healing power of forgiving without forgetting. Shapiro reminds us, as well, of the necessity to interrupt family dysfunction by merging life's sweetness with its sorrow, reconciling its meaning with its mystery.
~Rachel Fichter, editor, Nashville
Linda Shapiro's memoir, Four Rooms, Upstairs, reads like a masterfully woven novel that allows the reader to experience mental illness through the eyes of a child who knows something is wrong, but is never told anything. The prose is lyrical and beautiful, revealing that the thread that runs through this memoir is storytelling; storytelling to subvert secrets and storytelling to create new selfhood. Four Rooms, Upstairs belongs in the cannon with Eat, Pray, Love, Swallow the Ocean, and Three Little Words.
|For an autographed copy of the book, order directly from the author and shipping costs will be waived.
Please send $15.95 by check or money order to:
Linda Appleman Shapiro
P.O. Box 42
Harrison, New York 10528
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FOUR ROOMS, UPSTAIRS is also available as an audiobook, produced by Recorded Books, Inc. and narrated by actress, Suzanne Toren
Excerpts from Reviews
|DR. ROBERTA TEMES, Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry Dept., SUNY Health Center
This is an outstanding book... and an educational tool. Family therapists in training, as well as therapists already working with patients, would do well to read this fascinating story of a daughter's attempt to make sense out of her childhood. This is not another 'woe is me' account of dysfunction, but rather a heroic account of mastery and grace.
P. TOPPING, Linguist, NYC
For her amazing recall of and deep penetration into her past, FOUR ROOMS reminds me of Proust's REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST. For its complete ease of readability I think of Betty Smith's A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN. This title is engrossing, engaging and utterly delightful. At times painful, at times heart-warming, there is something for everyone here. ... Finally, there is a therapeutic effect to this remarkable book, at least for me. After reading FOUR ROOMS not only was I treated to a wonderful read, I also felt that I had gained the courage to examine my own childhood, a locked door that I had heretofore never dared peer into
PEGGY SANDERS, Searcy, Arizona
Places hold memories, just as memories hold onto places. In Four Rooms, Upstairs, the reader is transported into Shapiro's old neighborhood, alive with the smells and sounds, the voices and images of years gone by. Past and present swing gracefully past each other in a pas de deux of memory ... Four Rooms, Upstairs is a riveting tale wrapped in elegant prose. ... The past is always with us, our roots responsible for our ability to survive and bloom. This is a very human story, one of hope and perseverance that resonates deeply within the soul.
R.G STERLING, Musician, California
Linda Appleman Shapiro's eloquent, fluidly written, heartbreaking memoir resonated greatly with this reader.
Shapiro was born at the beginning of World War II, at a time when cities like New York were teeming with eastern European immigrants, struggling to survive in a strange, alien land. At the outset, Shapiro beautifully describes the unique charm of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn in the 40s - the sounds, smells, shops, bustling street life and poor families squeezed together in four rooms or less! With this colorful setting as a backdrop, we are drawn into an unspoken facet of life experienced by many displaced immigrant families of that era. ... As Shapiro describes her family, "dysfunction" of any sort was never discussed, acknowledged or even understood. The cover of the happy, harmonious family unit with the good child, the smiling, compliant daughter masked so much anguish, fear and confusion.
Now, as an experienced psychotherapist, Shapiro writes with extraordinary insight and honesty. She shares with us her journey of many years, from infinite pain to knowledge, healing and forgiveness without a trace of melodrama. A truly inspiring read.
||GEORGE GUIDALL, Actor/Audiobook Narrator, NYC
In a deceptively simple style, Shapiro creates the world of her childhood, growing up with a mother who suffered from debilitating depression. The story unfolds like a delicate flower, though, never weighing us down, or asking for pity, but, rather lifting us up to realize the power of the human spirit when confronted with seemingly insurmountable conflict. It's a testimony to Shapiro, a practicing psychotherapist (and my wife), whose empathic nature has allowed her to help others who have suffered trauma.
Anyone who has grown up with a family member in a chronic state of imbalance, spiritual or physical, should feel heartened by this gentle and loving memoir
FREDERICK ROLF, Actor/Director, California
This compelling story is deeply moving because it is told with such an open heart. The writer has looked deeply within and not been afraid to reveal what she found there. One feels privileged to be allowed into her inner self and one shares with her every trauma that she and her mother and her mother before her had to endure. Devastating childhoods full of neglect and emptiness. What an extraordinary family saga. As the author peels away layer upon layer, the reader is overwhelmed and grateful at the same time. The mother and father have been brought back to vivid life. Few people have been so memorialized by a loving, uncompromisingly observant and eloquent daughter. As to the writing itself, I have never known anyone with such complete recall of every piece of clothing, every shade of color, every meal consumed, every facial expression preserved for all time. Look to your laurels, Marcel Proust!
Highly recommended reading.
VASKEN DEMIRJIAN, Artist/Entrepreneur
Thank you for letting me into your past, your life, and your insights . You've changed my mind on many subjects, some - dare I say - close to home
L. VALENTI, Home Care Worker,
From the moment I picked up Four Rooms, Upstairs I couldn't put it down. This author so passionately details times and places in her life that with every page I turned I felt I had become Linda Appleman Shapiro. As a reader I truly understood the powerful insights she offers as she helps us to understand how each of her family members was effected by her mother's mental illness. For anyone who enjoys reading a memoir, I strongly recommend this one. You will love it! I did. I even read it twice. I know that others will - as I did - see, touch, feel, hear and even experience their own heightened senses through joining this author as she takes you on her life's journey.