But Inside I’m Screaming by Elizabeth Flock

So this could have been a very interesting book. It had all the right elements and a main character that could have been compelling. But sadly it had no depth to it, and things were “told” instead of “shown.”

Isabel breaks down on live television and as a result, heads home to commit suicide. She doesn’t quite succeed though and finds herself transported to the mental institution of Three Breezes. Here she doesn’t feel as if she belongs with the other patients. She doesn’t think she’s quite crazy enough. But she does still know that she wants to kill herself, and that she’s not happy with the doctors there who want her to undergo Electric Shock Therapy. Isabel is determined to die still, but it doesn’t look like she’s going to get her chance. Mixed in with her time at the institution are also memories of events that all led up to her breakdown. Memories of her husband’s abusive ways and her father’s absence help to contribute to her unstableness.

Isabel could have been a fantastic character. Since she is the main character she’s the center of attention and the book pretty much focuses on her. However I never really understand why she does the things she does. For example, she develops some friendships at the institution, but its never really clear on why she picks the people she does to become friends with. I can understand why Isabel is depressed and there of course, but we’re always told why she does this and that instead of having the character express it through her actions. The doctors at the institution were all pretty bland and I thought that maybe differentiating them from one another with some unique characteristics would have been nice. The other patients seemed kind of cookie cutter too instead of being unique as well.

I liked the idea of the plot but didn’t care too much for the way it was done. While I find exploring the mind of a mental patient (albeit a tame one) interesting, I didn’t find Isabel very compelling. I also didn’t like the way the book jumped around from the present to different points in the past (in no particular chronological order) as it didn’t flow very smoothly. It could do it randomly in the middle of the page sometimes and my brain would take a few seconds to keep up. Since this book deals with depression and suicide there are some pretty rough descriptions in here. There is also cussing and mention of rape and its probably not a book for the light hearted.

Not terrible but not especially interesting. It didn’t make me want to go out and read another book by Flock right away.

But Inside I’m Screaming
Copyright 2003
316 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2011

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