Review published on July 16, 2017.
In 2015, Poorna Bell suffered the most heart-breaking of losses when her husband, Rob, took his own life after decades spent struggling with mental health and addiction.
Chase the Rainbow is Poorna’s memoir of her relationship with Rob and the realities of life as the spouse of someone suffering with addiction in a society that often fails to offer the right and proper treatment. It is both a deeply beautiful and a painfully tragic love story, but also a powerful cautionary tale and a compelling call for change, not only in the way people view those with addiction and how it is treated, but also attitudes to suicide and the pressures and expectations on men and their emotions. There have been steps forward in recent years with regards to some of these issues, but Poorna’s experiences underline just how much more there is to do.
She writes with the insight and intensity of someone who has had to live through these challenges first-hand and really makes the reader rethink their beliefs on a number of key issues, including the decriminalisation of drugs and societal responses to mental health, writing about the way people tend to offer a ‘pull yourself together’ approach, ‘None of us think we know the cure for cancer… but we all think we know the cure for depression.’ But perhaps the most powerful writing emerges as she explores the ups and downs of her marriage, and she does so with both shearing honesty about the anger, hurt and frustration of her relationship with her husband and immense compassion and love.
It is an eye-opening and thought-provoking read on many levels, and Poorna’s bravery to put her personal pain into creating a book that I’m sure will be so helpful to many is a huge testament. Whoever picks up this book will come away from it somewhat changed, and hopefully on a broader scale it will encourage much-needed discussions, and potentially subsequent changes and developments, with regard to some of the most pressing issues we are faced with today but often get swept under the rug.
Jade Craddock 5/5
Chase the Rainbow by Poorna Bell
Simon & Schuster UK 9781471160691 hbk May 2017
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