National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Bookshelf: April 2011

Editors' note: Click the book title to order the book from and NAMI will receive a portion of the proceeds.

Nerve: Poise under Pressure, Serenity under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool
By Taylor Cook
Little, Brown and Company (2011)

Therese Borchard, associate editor of PsychCentral, who also writes a blog, Beyond Blue on "Beliefnet," has recommended this book as the best she's ever read about fear and anxiety, mixing "self-deprecating humor and exhaustive, thorough research." "Every page," she writes "contains some interesting or fascinating study." It will be informative, entertaining and helpful to many readers, "but especially the more than 18 percent of adults suffering from a full-blown anxiety disorder in any given year according to the National Institute of Mental Health." Although the book focuses more on science than cures, it includes references to many other sources and is a starting point for understanding.

Movie Review: Fly Away

Janet Grillo's film Fly Away, a story about a single mother, Jeanne (Beth Broderick), caring for her autistic teenage daughter, Mandy (Ashley Rickards), provides a poignant look into the life of a family affected by autism. By focusing on the small joys and pains understood by those affected autism Grillo develops a film that steps beyond cliché and into an intimate account of love and learning to let go.

Soothed by repetition, Mandy is disposed to uncontrollable outbursts, which often interfere with her mother's tenuous job. Her ex-husband, and Mandy's father, Peter (JR Bourne) is unreliable and easily infuriated with the challenges of his daughter. His solution: to place her in a therapeutic residential facility. Jeanne adamantly disagrees and believes that she can still juggle handling her daughter and her life. But as outbursts continue and the strain mounts, Jeanne must decide what is not only best for herself but Mandy as well.

Rickards powerful and believable performance as a young girl with autism is what truly brings this movie together. Rickard's ability to portray the traits of autism without trivializing them with exaggerations allows a personality to grow and a connection with the audience to develop. "She was never instructed to play symptoms," Grillo stated, "She found quirks in her own nervous system and worked from them."

Fly Away, although not autobiographical is based on stories of friends that Janet Grillo has known. Grillo's, whose own son was once diagnosed with autism and has since grown almost entirely off the spectrum, felt an obligation to share the story that is faced by many parents with children with autism.

Although the ability to place Mandy in care is an option for her mother, it is not an option for many parents. Apart from a few states, there is not a choice to seek help for your child. "There are simply not enough places for help. We are in a real crisis," said Grillo.

Fly Away is currently available only in limited release in select cities around the country and is available for purchase on DVD.