Hot Best Seller

Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood

Availability: Ready to download

""My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad. I thought that I would be the one to escape.""So begins Adrienne Martini's candid, compelling, and darkly humorous history of her family's and her own experiences with depression and postpartum syndrome. Illuminating depression from the inside, Martini delves unflinchingly into her own breakdown and ""My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad. I thought that I would be the one to escape.""So begins Adrienne Martini's candid, compelling, and darkly humorous history of her family's and her own experiences with depression and postpartum syndrome. Illuminating depression from the inside, Martini delves unflinchingly into her own breakdown and institutionalization and traces the multigenerational course of this devastating problem. Moving back and forth between characters and situations, she vividly portrays the isolation -- geographical and metaphorical -- of the Appalachia of her forebears and the Western Pennsylvania region where she grew up. She also weaves in the stories of other women, both contemporary and historic, who have dealt with postpartum depression in all its guises, from fleeting "baby blues" to full-blown psychosis. Serious as her subject is, Martini's narrative is unfailingly engaging and filled with witty, wry observations on the complications of new motherhood: "It's like getting the best Christmas gift ever, but Santa decided to kick the crap out of you before you unwrapped it." New mothers and those who have struggled with parenthood -- whether or not they dealt with depression -- will find affirmation in this story of triumph, of escape from a difficult legacy, of hope for others, and of the courage to have another baby.


Compare

""My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad. I thought that I would be the one to escape.""So begins Adrienne Martini's candid, compelling, and darkly humorous history of her family's and her own experiences with depression and postpartum syndrome. Illuminating depression from the inside, Martini delves unflinchingly into her own breakdown and ""My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad. I thought that I would be the one to escape.""So begins Adrienne Martini's candid, compelling, and darkly humorous history of her family's and her own experiences with depression and postpartum syndrome. Illuminating depression from the inside, Martini delves unflinchingly into her own breakdown and institutionalization and traces the multigenerational course of this devastating problem. Moving back and forth between characters and situations, she vividly portrays the isolation -- geographical and metaphorical -- of the Appalachia of her forebears and the Western Pennsylvania region where she grew up. She also weaves in the stories of other women, both contemporary and historic, who have dealt with postpartum depression in all its guises, from fleeting "baby blues" to full-blown psychosis. Serious as her subject is, Martini's narrative is unfailingly engaging and filled with witty, wry observations on the complications of new motherhood: "It's like getting the best Christmas gift ever, but Santa decided to kick the crap out of you before you unwrapped it." New mothers and those who have struggled with parenthood -- whether or not they dealt with depression -- will find affirmation in this story of triumph, of escape from a difficult legacy, of hope for others, and of the courage to have another baby.

30 review for Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood

  1. 5 out of 5

    Talia

    Society has its ideas of what motherhood looks like; we get them from television commercials, magazine covers, and our own naïve misconceptions. And then there is Postpartum Depression, an element of motherhood that is seldom glamorized, unless of course we’re talking about Andrea Yates. Adrienne Martini’s memoir, Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood is an exploration of her own misconceptions as they collide head-on with the real thing. Despite the incredible genetic disposition Society has its ideas of what motherhood looks like; we get them from television commercials, magazine covers, and our own naïve misconceptions. And then there is Postpartum Depression, an element of motherhood that is seldom glamorized, unless of course we’re talking about Andrea Yates. Adrienne Martini’s memoir, Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood is an exploration of her own misconceptions as they collide head-on with the real thing. Despite the incredible genetic disposition, (“My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad.”), Martini thinks she will escape this fateful progeny, and like motherhood, mental illness too has its misconceptions. Having a college education and a liberal political outlook on life doesn’t keep one from being sequestered to the inside of a psyche ward, if need be. Here is where my maternal great-grandmother abandoned her three children. Here is where my maternal grandmother went quietly mad. Here is where my uncle came home from Vietnam, put his gun to his head, and killed himself. And here is where my mother met my father, and then escaped the geography but not the heredity. Years later I would be back in the same scenery, if a few miles farther south. The irony is not lost. A tradition of new mothers who plan on delivering in the traditional hospital, is to purchase a new pair of pajamas or a nightgown to wear in the hospital, as opposed to the hospital gown, and as she is embarking on her glorious new life as a mother, flowing with life-giving milk and joy, she will look even more the part in something cotton and maternal. Martini’s new pajamas never made it to the delivery room: I’d initially bought them to wear after having the baby. They seemed perfect for the Maternity ward, cheerful and motherly. I even made sure they had a top with buttons on it, so that I could easily access my breasts. I had not got the chance to wear them, until now, where they just look wrong. Martini doesn’t hesitate to verbalize the unspeakable, unthinkable doubts that must cross the mind of every mother at some point of the mother-transformation, such as the feelings of inferiority when very little seems natural, and then one becomes amazed that this is the process that has sustained the human race. And then there is that complex bonding process, not to mention that eyes looking upon you to for evidence to support their own ideas of motherhood. With a mix of serious and humorous, Martini allows us to laugh and learn along with her. She shares all the shocking moments with the reader: Jeff asked if I wanted to know why he was here. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘But only if you want to tell me.’ ‘I threatened to kill my ex-girlfriend and her new husband. Jesus told me to do.’ ‘Good to know,’ I said. And left it at that. Eventually she gets it, “…I know the reward. I understand why people wax rhapsodic about having kids. I get it now.” And while, her journey doesn’t end, she does ride into the sunset a new person. ;;;

  2. 5 out of 5

    justablondemoment

    I really admire this author for opening up on a topic that is so hard for women. Post-partum depression can be a very serious medical condition but one that a lot of women go through without the support or sympathy they need to get back on track. I was lucky of my four children; I never went through this but my heart goes out to the women, and their families who have. Adrienne Martini was honest with her life and her battles reaching out to those that feel overwhelmed in such a...these are the f I really admire this author for opening up on a topic that is so hard for women. Post-partum depression can be a very serious medical condition but one that a lot of women go through without the support or sympathy they need to get back on track. I was lucky of my four children; I never went through this but my heart goes out to the women, and their families who have. Adrienne Martini was honest with her life and her battles reaching out to those that feel overwhelmed in such a...these are the facts, but I'm casting a light of humor over it so that you feel comfortable...way. Good Book for those going through this. She shows the grit of it but also shows the light at the end of the tunnel. The best part was mostly throughout the book I was largely entertained. I have always felt that one of the better pills to take when down in that depression hole is laughter not a cure mind you but indeed should always be a part of any therapy. Problem is when your down it's hard to find that joy. There were a few dry spots in the book holding me from a higher star . Mostly, where she goes into the history of different states and cities within. I could have done without all that but all in all ...Thumbs up on this one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jobie

    After reading halfway through this book, I tired of all the metaphors and similies. ENOUGH! But, once I reached Chapter 7, it became less about familial history and more about her account of Post-Partum Depression. Having gone through this myself with my first child, I had an eerie connection to the writer. We are approximately the same age, have two children and husbands who stood by us and held us through it all. We both experienced fear... for my saftey and my child's...for months... all beca After reading halfway through this book, I tired of all the metaphors and similies. ENOUGH! But, once I reached Chapter 7, it became less about familial history and more about her account of Post-Partum Depression. Having gone through this myself with my first child, I had an eerie connection to the writer. We are approximately the same age, have two children and husbands who stood by us and held us through it all. We both experienced fear... for my saftey and my child's...for months... all because of me. and my chemical imbalance. I look forward to discussing this at book club, and I sincerely hope that all members of book club give it until chapter 7. Her writing style improves as she is really writing the "memoir" at this point. Forgive me for my lack of organization writing this, I just don't want to lose my thoughts before next month's meeting. I'm wondering if there are any other memoirs out there discussing PPD accounts. Anyone?

  4. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    The story in this book is genuinely good. I enjoyed it. However, the writing was so awful that I really wonder how the author gets paid to do this for a living. She switches between tenses so frequently (within the same sentence, at times) that I found myself wondering if I was reading something that was happening, had happened, or would happen in the future. I also really dislike when authors pull giant sections from their journals or diaries. There were a lot of said chunks in this book, makin The story in this book is genuinely good. I enjoyed it. However, the writing was so awful that I really wonder how the author gets paid to do this for a living. She switches between tenses so frequently (within the same sentence, at times) that I found myself wondering if I was reading something that was happening, had happened, or would happen in the future. I also really dislike when authors pull giant sections from their journals or diaries. There were a lot of said chunks in this book, making me wonder if she was just desperate to meet a word count. There was also an entire section that was back and forth dialogue between her cousin and cousin's husband. So the book didn't flow particularly well, which really detracted from the worthwhile story that the author has to tell.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    LOVED this book! Great look at postpartum depression and mental illness in general. As a mom I can relate to the authors worries about trying to be the "perfect" mom - I never struggled with PPD like she did but I have, like most moms, struggled with trying to be the "perfect" mom and feeling inadequate over NOT being the "perfect" mom. We all need to realize that JUST loving our kids is enough - if we just love them and take it day by day - there is no need to be "perfect" and it is okay to ask LOVED this book! Great look at postpartum depression and mental illness in general. As a mom I can relate to the authors worries about trying to be the "perfect" mom - I never struggled with PPD like she did but I have, like most moms, struggled with trying to be the "perfect" mom and feeling inadequate over NOT being the "perfect" mom. We all need to realize that JUST loving our kids is enough - if we just love them and take it day by day - there is no need to be "perfect" and it is okay to ask for help and it is okay to have a bad day. Mental illness is just like any other illness and with the proper treatment it can be controlled just like any other illness. It is too bad that society does not always remember that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mommalibrarian

    This memoir is journalistic rather than literary. The subject is postpartum depression and societies view of mental illness in general. No new ground is covered. The title is misleading as there is not much Gothic and even less hillbilly about it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    An entertaining read, but not entirely satisfying. It is, on one hand, a memoir, but it is also a sociological/anthropological reflection on an isolated and marginalized subsection of American culture, while also providing intermittent quotes from psychology articles written on the subject Post-Partum Depression, depression and metal illness in general, and motherhood. The irony of the book being a memoir about mental illness, is that the organization is so fragmented - schizophrenic, almost, if An entertaining read, but not entirely satisfying. It is, on one hand, a memoir, but it is also a sociological/anthropological reflection on an isolated and marginalized subsection of American culture, while also providing intermittent quotes from psychology articles written on the subject Post-Partum Depression, depression and metal illness in general, and motherhood. The irony of the book being a memoir about mental illness, is that the organization is so fragmented - schizophrenic, almost, if a book can be described as such - a book going through an identity crisis about how to communicate, and investigate, mental illness. I thought it was really interesting but I think it should have been three different books instead of one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I really liked this book. I wish I had read it before I had a baby or shortly after, when I was going through some of the same stuff the author did. It would have made things a lot better to know I wasn't alone. I really admire Adrienne Martini's truthfulness about what it's like to be pregnant and give birth and suddenly be in charge of a "sub-ten pound human." I will definitely read anything else of hers that I can find.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heather Durick

    Great memoir that also has some commentary on the way post partum depression and mental illness in general are viewed in society. She is honest and raw withe the description of her breakdown. Kudos to her for being open enough to put it out there and reduce the stigma for other women

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    A truly insightful depiction of postpartum depression as well as views on motherhood and mental health care in this country. A raw, true and no-holds-barred portrayal of mental illness and its genetic ties. If you are interested in these topics I would say it is a must read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    CJ

    So beautifully written. Martini really created a mood and drew me into her story from page 1.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gayle A

    This is an outstanding brain health memoir! Outstanding!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Her writing style is much different then I'm use to. Sometimes it feels the book is jumping around but their are some good lessons in her life about motherhood and post partum depression.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    As represented in her memoir, Martini and I have a lot in common: a good education, giftedness, a supportive husband, career-mindedness, and a wish to see mental illness recognized as a medical, not moral, problem. Martini paints a very moving picture of her family, going back to her great-grandmother, and all of their (known) psychological issues. It's particularly important that many of the women in her family have developed a postpartum mood disorder after the birth of their first child or th As represented in her memoir, Martini and I have a lot in common: a good education, giftedness, a supportive husband, career-mindedness, and a wish to see mental illness recognized as a medical, not moral, problem. Martini paints a very moving picture of her family, going back to her great-grandmother, and all of their (known) psychological issues. It's particularly important that many of the women in her family have developed a postpartum mood disorder after the birth of their first child or that the same event magnifies a preexisting condition. As she states in the opening paragraph, like most women, she thinks she'll be the one to escape it. When she isn't, her journey into her family's history and into her own psyche is a powerful tale highlighting the cultural and disorder-related factors that stop so many from getting the help they need and deserve. Because postpartum depression has such a wide, changeable set of symptoms, her descriptions of her journey are truthful in a way that only something you experience firsthand can be. Despite no professional medical background, she does convey the essential facts and figures of PPMDs as best as they are known (although she only discusses baby blues, PPD, and postpartum psychosis, not postpartum anxiety, OCD, or PTSD). She is also honest about how circumstances (their financial position, the large cities they lived in, availability of family help) were part of her recovery effort. She does not go into detail about the health care system's treatment of mental illness and the availability of care for the general population; this book is not about these topics but rather one woman's experience. The only thing detracting from this story is the author's tendency to over describe the cities in which she lives. While there is a metaphoric point that she's making about the cultures, it tends to go on a bit long and come across as the author being unable to make up her mind about whether she likes these places. A stronger editorial hand to tighten these sections would have helped. I'd also have liked to read more interviews from her family about their experiences and perspectives. This is a great book for mothers with postpartum mood disorders, their partners and family members, and anyone interested in a modern, personal experience of mental health. It reminds all those suffering directly or indirectly that they are not alone and that there is help. Stories like this help society at large normalize mental illness so that we can stop keeping things quiet and "in the family" and instead discuss real research, real help, and real answers. As the author says in her powerful opening paragraph, "I thought that I would be the one to escape. Given my spectacular failure, my hope is now that my daughter will be the one." Honest stories like these will give daughters everywhere a better chance of exactly that.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    I finished this memoir this morning and I highly recommend it. The writing was superb, the subject matter was important and informative and there was just enough humor to lighten a difficult story. Told with brutal honesty, I commend Martini for sharing her story. Although it focuses on her experience with postpartum depression, it also deals very heavily with the mother/daughter relationship. A very complex and difficult experience for many women. I have never had postpartum depression, but I di I finished this memoir this morning and I highly recommend it. The writing was superb, the subject matter was important and informative and there was just enough humor to lighten a difficult story. Told with brutal honesty, I commend Martini for sharing her story. Although it focuses on her experience with postpartum depression, it also deals very heavily with the mother/daughter relationship. A very complex and difficult experience for many women. I have never had postpartum depression, but I did have a mother who lived her entire life with a clinical depression that she chose to never acknowledge or have treated. The result affected the relationship we shared and these are the parts of Martini's story that I most related to. Thought-provoking and profound, I read the book in one day because I simply could not put it down. What also struck me was the uplifting end of the book. The author eventually comes to understand many things. She may not like them, but she accepts them and this is what helps her to walk through a difficult time to get to the other side...where she is supposed to be and even more important, the person she is supposed to be. Life is not easy and it isn't fair. We all have different ways of dealing with it. Bravo to Martini for having the ability and the strength to go forward in a way that is best for her and her family.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sonya Feher

    This feels like a mission book: I had PPD and if you ever do, here's some advice, here's how I got through it, so you can get through it too. When she's specific, Martini is funny with an ability to casually describe something in conversational language, throw in a pop culture reference and be self deprecating or sarcastic. The history of madness in her family, her work history, and the geographical diary of where she lived and what she did there are all covered in way too much detail and take a This feels like a mission book: I had PPD and if you ever do, here's some advice, here's how I got through it, so you can get through it too. When she's specific, Martini is funny with an ability to casually describe something in conversational language, throw in a pop culture reference and be self deprecating or sarcastic. The history of madness in her family, her work history, and the geographical diary of where she lived and what she did there are all covered in way too much detail and take away from her giving a clear timeline of how long she's in a mental hospital or real detail about her second post-partum bout of depression. Though the book is uneven, it is a good read and anyone who has struggled with mental health issues surrounding pregnancy and parenting could definitely benefit from reading Hillbilly Gothic .

  17. 5 out of 5

    Purlewe

    Talking about reading, I finished Hillbilly Gothic 2 weeks ago. I tore thru that book as if it were on fire. I really enjoyed it and I am glad to have read it. There were places I recognized between those pages. Situations I had been but never described to someone. And while this all sounds implausible as I have neither had a child or been institutionalized.. I recognized the familial relationships. Rachel recommended it, and I actually got to meet Adrienne at the KR Retreat. That was a pleasure Talking about reading, I finished Hillbilly Gothic 2 weeks ago. I tore thru that book as if it were on fire. I really enjoyed it and I am glad to have read it. There were places I recognized between those pages. Situations I had been but never described to someone. And while this all sounds implausible as I have neither had a child or been institutionalized.. I recognized the familial relationships. Rachel recommended it, and I actually got to meet Adrienne at the KR Retreat. That was a pleasure I never expected.. meeting the author of a book a friend recommends before I even had time to read the book! I feel a little awkward saying how much I loved it since I have met her before I read it (really I was planning on reading it before I met her, really!!) But this book was fabulous and I want to buy a copy for all my friends.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    The first opening line is (or something similar) "Our family has a grand tradition. The women give birth and then go mad." This is a fascinating memoir about a southern family whose woman all deal with post partum psychosis and other forms of mental illness that seems to rear its ugly ahead immediately after childbirth. All though the authors slang and abbreviated words were at times a slight bit annoying, I commend her for her brutal honesty and her williness to talk about what its like to have The first opening line is (or something similar) "Our family has a grand tradition. The women give birth and then go mad." This is a fascinating memoir about a southern family whose woman all deal with post partum psychosis and other forms of mental illness that seems to rear its ugly ahead immediately after childbirth. All though the authors slang and abbreviated words were at times a slight bit annoying, I commend her for her brutal honesty and her williness to talk about what its like to have a child and "not be over the moon". It is the anti-blog of what we read today so often (woman bragging about there perfect babies, husbands, and all the great things they do in their lives). I could not wait to go back to this book every night.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    What do you do when your own mother (and possibly generations of women in your family) have too many mental health and other problems to be anything but a destructive force? Where is the line between a normal amount of ambivalence about motherhood and complete dysfunction? It's well written and thought provoking for those of you with happy families. For the rest of us, it may be one of the few honest portrayals of conflicted feelings about motherhood and parental relationships that can't be men What do you do when your own mother (and possibly generations of women in your family) have too many mental health and other problems to be anything but a destructive force? Where is the line between a normal amount of ambivalence about motherhood and complete dysfunction? It's well written and thought provoking for those of you with happy families. For the rest of us, it may be one of the few honest portrayals of conflicted feelings about motherhood and parental relationships that can't be mended. It's also one of the best depictions of depression - I'd put it up there with Styron's Darkness Visible.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zefyr

    I enjoyed Martini's writing style and personal insights, and found much of that helpful in putting words to the experience of my own mental health party. Not previously being aware of the issue of postpartum depression, it was informative for that as well. I couldn't tell her the truth [about giving birth], about the pain and the blood. It's like getting the best Christmas present ever, but Santa decided to kick the crap out of you before you unwrapped it. No one wants to know the truth. --- A cert I enjoyed Martini's writing style and personal insights, and found much of that helpful in putting words to the experience of my own mental health party. Not previously being aware of the issue of postpartum depression, it was informative for that as well. I couldn't tell her the truth [about giving birth], about the pain and the blood. It's like getting the best Christmas present ever, but Santa decided to kick the crap out of you before you unwrapped it. No one wants to know the truth. --- A certain level of hell is reserved for those who proselytize to those over whom they have power.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Trish Lindsey

    This memoir delves into the mysterious power of hormones that rage after childbirth. The author's nightmare-like experience with madness (and the family history of it), will serve countless women who find themselves in a similar situation. Every obgyn and psychiatrist should be forced to read this book, to peer into the most private thoughts and fears of hormonally-induced depression and/or insanity. An excellent read for the rest of us, too!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    I really admire Martini's courage, admitting to having any mixed feelings about being around your own baby is pretty taboo, but she didn't let that stop her. I also admire her courage for having another baby--after setting up a support system. It still must have been really scary. This book is a combination memoir/history (or should it be herstory?) of post-partum depression and pyschosis. It is very well written and intesresting.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nesi

    I picked this book up at the library based on the terrific title. Although I really wanted to like the story (the author lived in Austin for awhile and wrote for The Chronicle), I was bored by all the unneccesary details about family background and random history of various cities. As a counselor, I wanted to know more about the progression of her illness. The snarky tone and endless metaphors made me give up and I just couldn't finish this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This novel was not what I expected, it was so much better. I thought it would be light reading and humorous. It is told by a young woman after giving birth to her first child. She is blindsided by a feeling of deep depression. Diagnosed as postpartum depression, she winds up on Tower 4 in a psychiatric unit. Tears stream contantly down her face. After treatment she returns home and gradually improves.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Valerie F

    A balanced account of post-partum depression. Not everyone is either in a state of bliss or drowning their kids a la Andrea Yates. It's refreshing that the author could share an experience in the gray area, even if she occasionally tries too hard to get the snarky comment in. Read for Elle Reader Prize Non-fiction 2006

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    I picked this up because I liked the title. Really, though, it was kind of boring. Here's the whole book: fragmented bits of the author's genealogy, fractured landscapes of Knoxville, a baby, and lots and lots of crying. The loony bin wasn't as exciting here as it is in other memoirs, and I don't think the author was clever.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Since I am pregnant, why not read a book about postpartum depression? Uplifting! But this book was actually occasionally funny and very interesting. I now know what to look for when someone goes a bit mad after giving birth. I think I should be able to recognize the signs, but hopefully it won't be me!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Time4nicu

    I listened to this book in my car and it made me laugh in traffic...people were staring at me while I was driving. Adrienne describes depression in such a way, even folks who have never been depressed will understand how it feels. So candid and real, this is an awesome read for anyone suffering from PPD or just plain old baby blues.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    An excellent memoir of a Woman who gets pregnant despite the long family history of postpartum depression and how she was able to battle her illness and get better. She then was able to have a second child with better tools and knowledge going forward.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    The first chapter had me really hooked, but it soon became too self-absorbed. I felt similarly as when reading An Unquiet Mind....I'm sorry things are so difficult for people with mental disorders but hey, life is difficult even if you don't (or maybe I do and I'm just in denial).

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.