Forensic Psychiatrist Reviews His Name Was Ben

In a private e-mail to me this reviewer, real name changed by the reviewer, wrote that he made a mention about Sara’s brother(with schizophrenia) in the review. He felt he needed to make the statement here as he’s a “psychiatrist in his day job” and advocates to change the stigma of mental health. At the end of the review I commented (see below).
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This review is from: His Name was Ben (Kindle Edition)
His Name Was Ben is a sensitively written, well-characterised story about the effects of living with potentially terminal illness. It begins with the protagonist, Sara, a woman undergoing treatment for advanced breast cancer, receiving an invitation to participate in a trial for an experimental, possibly life-saving treatment. For Sara, this could be the last throw of the dice and her underlying anxieties are explored with great empathy. In her doctor’s waiting room, she sees, and is instantly drawn to Ben, a fellow patient, and what follows is the story of their developing relationship.At times gentle, at others angry and occasionally sensual, but never less than compelling, this is a very well-written book; in spite of the ostensibly bleak subject matter, I devoured this in a couple of sittings. Clearly, Mahurin knows how to craft a narrative and I’d frequently find myself wanting to read ‘just another chapter’ long after I should have turned in for the night. Partly, this is down to the skilful way she captures the tensions and resolutions of a burgeoning romance but she also introduces intriguing subplots about Ben and Sara’s respective backgrounds. Another strength lies in the believable characters. Sara’s mother, in particular, is brilliantly drawn; initially an all-too recognisable grotesque, she evolves into something much more rounded as the book progresses.SPOILER?: I do, unfortunately, have one reservation about the book and it revolves around the depiction of Sara’s brother. He’s identified early on as a sufferer of schizophrenia and then viewed only through the prism of others perspective of him. Eventually, it becomes clear why Sara harbours such conflicted feelings towards him but until this revelation, it just feels like more stigma and the views jar a little in an otherwise sympathetic character. (I should perhaps declare an interest here. In my day job, I work in forensic mental health and I see combating stigma as part of my responsibility. Schizophrenia is as much a disease as the illnesses which effect the characters in this book and we need parity between mental and physical health. This case is somewhat different as the brother’s character flaws are presumably independent of his condition but it’s never quite clear that clear that Sara sees it like that).Mahurin is particularly skilled at portraying the mixture of doubt and potentially futile hope her characters struggle with. According to her bio, the author is a Nurse Practitioner, and she’s channelled her experiences into producing a powerful and believable story.
Your initial post: 25 Oct 2014 16:12:27 BDT
Thank you, Etienne Hannratty, for reading my book and this very thoughtful review. I’m grateful for your feedback.As you’ve expressed your concern about the stigma of schizophrenia, please let me address this as well. The story line was written from the perspectives of the characters, some drawn on real conversations and others advanced through fiction. The point you make is very significant and important. I also write about and try to lift stigma, about mental illness, about preference (my first book centered around homophobia, anti-sematism, and racism) etc. As the story progresses and Sara gains some distance from her own traumatized past, she comes to realize and expresses to Ben, “He’s ill…” (referring to her brother) and further on the conversations about the brother being on medications and doing well is brought into the story, showing I concur with you that schizophrenia is as much a disease as the illnesses… To have written this any other way would not have reflected the character accurately and honestly.
OTHER RECENT REVIEWS:
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story of Two Bonafide Super Heroes, October 25, 2014
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This review is from: His Name was Ben (Paperback)
In this world of too many questionable, and even fallen, heroes, what a pleasure it is to discover two genuine heroes, even if they do only live in the pages of a book. In this case, however, the champions are real because His Name Was Ben by award-winning and best-selling author Paulette Mahurin is based on a true story. Once again, Mahurin has embraced a difficult, an uncomfortable topic, which seems her modus operandi as an author, an approach from which many authors shy away, especially when so new to the literary world. Check out her critically acclaimed first novel The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap to test the veracity of my assertion.Ben and Sara, both receiving treatment for end-stage cancer by the same oncologist, are the stars of this impeccably-written and easy-to-read novel of love and of discovery of the joy and fulfillment available in living in the moment, which, as Mahurin reminds us, is all we are promised anyway. Despite the specter of death overhanging them, Ben and Sara choose to live each moment of their remaining days, and the path they choose for their shared journey is a story that will keep the reader transfixed and rooting for these two indomitable people. This was just the right book for me to read at this time in my life because it nudged me toward counting my blessings rather than lamenting my losses. It is a lesson in attitude adjustment, in embracing a healthier, a more generous and compassionate perspective. It is ultimately a lesson of redemption found through love.I cannot leave this page without writing more about Paulette Mahurin. I don’t know her personally. I wish I did. I only know her through our mutual cyber-connection as authors of books. But I don’t mind saying that I am in awe of her gallantry, as a writer, and as a person. She forges ahead in her writing without a hitch—there are no awkward pauses for the right word, the logical consequence, the best concept, all of which are telltale signs of an author unsure of her topic, or harboring uncertainties about it, or even prejudices against it. If her work was lacking wisdom, it would be easy to think her an innocent, for her consciousness seems childlike in that it has avoided being afflicted by prejudice and other cruelties of the adult world. But far from innocent, I’m sure she is. I suspect that instead, her soul and heart have been purified by the fires of her own life, and of those others for whom she cares so deeply. Many of her most precious loved-ones are animals, dogs specifically—attested to by the fact that the profits from His Name Was Ben go directly to the rescuing of dogs from kill shelters and other rescue efforts. Just think, your purchase of this remarkable book will save the life of a dog. That is a blessing worth counting.Other recent reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars An Emotional Story of Fight with Cancer., October 27, 2014
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This review is from: His Name was Ben (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of Sara, a nurse practitioner, who is also undergoing treatment for Cancer. She meets Ben, a lawyer working for NASA, at the cancer hospital. She gets attracted to him even though she guesses him also having cancer. They become friends and share the stories of their families. They find out that besides cancer they have one more thing in common, disturbed childhood. They try to help each other and get so emotionally and physically attached to each other within few days that they decide to marry even when they knew that they may be having only a few months to live. For them living the life, whatever was left of it, was important than worrying over the inevitable. The story of both cancer patients and their disturbed childhood is so full of emotions and so well presented that you want Ben to live somehow miraculously as you read the book, even though the book title ‘His name was Ben’ keeps you telling that he will not survive in the end. I liked reading this emotional story and recommend reading it to anyone for an inspiration to seek and find the happiness in life even if you are facing any kind of troubles with life.
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to read schmaltzy love stories, this is not for you, October 27, 2014
This review is from: His Name was Ben (Kindle Edition)
If you want to read schmaltzy love stories, this is not for you.If you want to read about how to start living, when you are dying, then Paulette Mahurin’s His Name was Ben, is just the story for you.While death is ever present in the book, it’s treated very maturely and the book is a love story of two strong people who do not fill their lives with self pity, rather they seize the moment and start loving.And start living.Strongly recommended. Mahurin is an author to watch out for.

Her stories are real, different and immerse you in their depth.

 

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Sensitive, October 27, 2014
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This review is from: His Name was Ben (Kindle Edition)
I stayed up late reading about two very intriguing characters. It was worth it, on so many levels! Gorgeous Ben and curious Sara meet in the waiting room of a doctor who’s a cancer specialist. They’re attracted to one another in the midst of their own personal traumas. Their amazing relationship gave me a whole new appreciation for the various types of challenges and dimensions two very different types of cancer can pose for those who struggle with them. I’ve become sensitized to the struggles of cancer patients both psychologically and physically after reading the descriptions that Mahurin puts forth in this beautiful story. She’s a talented writer who can weave fact with fiction to pull the reader along in just the right way. The author is a nurse practitioner and works with women who have cancer. She knows the range of treatments explored in this novel as well as the social, physical and psychological struggles of those who confront the disease. She’s done a masterful job of making a very sober topic come to life in a sensitive and compelling manner. The love story between Ben and Sara added a wonderful dimension to Mahurin’s complex exploration of a very delicate topic. It’s also a tear jerker (like another popular novel out just now) but in a good way. If you liked The Fault in our Stars, you’ll also come to love His Name was Ben. Loved it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Intriguing love story, October 28, 2014
This review is from: His Name was Ben (Kindle Edition)
This is an intriguing romance novel full of hope and love. It is dear, sweet, tender love story about real issues that touch people’s lives.It is a blessing to see that there are still doctors out there passionate about their patients and their treatment. Having been in the opposite situation many times, I too can relate to such a kind and caring doctor, and what a difference it makes.I love how in spite of the seriousness of her condition, Sara is able to see the light and continue to find interest and joy in ordinary things like dating. I love how Ben is able to fully love Sara through and through inside and out despite what she sees as disfigurement from a double mastectomy.

Ben and Sara both found it in their hearts to love one another fully and to give freely of themselves to one another despite the fact that they were both dealing with physical, mental, and spiritual pain of their own. In doing so, they helped one another through some of the hardest times life had to offer.

This book reminds us to live every moment to the fullest, as if it is our last. It also reminds us to love unconditionally. Also, “Man’s best Friend”, holds true even through this book as Tazzie captures the hearts of the readers.

5.0 out of 5 stars Tazzie the Rottweiler brought a sweet note of unconditional love to this beautiful story, October 28, 2014
This review is from: His Name was Ben (Kindle Edition)
A tender tale about living in the moment when it looks as though all the sand is swiftly running from the hourglass. Tazzie the Rottweiler brought a sweet note of unconditional love to this beautiful story. Reading Sara’s experiences touched me on a personal level as well. I recommend.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, October 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: His Name was Ben (Kindle Edition)
I came across this book by Paulette Mahurin by accident and was drawn in first by the cover then by the free excerpt. I am so glad that happened!! I LOVED this tender, sweet story that was full of passion, life and love. The author is very colorful in describing a touching relationship between two people stricken with cancer who love each other freely and completely. I found myself getting wrapped up in their lives and rooting for them with all my might. I also adored how she kept all of this real and included a beloved four legged friend, Tazzie. I would highly recommend this book! You won’t put it down as Ms Mahurin is a very talented author that takes you on a journey sure to pull at your heart strings. I can’t get these characters out of my head now…. What a beautiful journey. I’m so glad I found this beautiful & intelligently written, touching story filled with hope. Truly inspiring.
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is precious, November 2, 2014
This review is from: His Name was Ben (Paperback)
What a wonderful book on what it is to be alive, fully alive, despite all reasons one might have to dwell on what was or what will be. To be diagnosed with cancer and have this open the door to love and a deep meaningful relationship certainly gives one hope that it’s never too late, to love, to live. This is a book to be read and reread. And cherished for it’s message on how precious life is.
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About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
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24 Responses to Forensic Psychiatrist Reviews His Name Was Ben

  1. tazzielove says:

    Interesting dialogue. It’s a really good review and I like that he made that point, even though the story needed to unfold as it did as part of the way the story is told.

  2. Jean-Jacques says:

    And the beat goes on…! Jean-Jacques

  3. Wonderful Paulette. I appreciated the reviewer’s honesty and concerns. Though as I read the book I saw the issues through the relationship, not the mental illness, I quickly picked up that there was an issue not fully addressed. I knew it wasn’t the schizophrenia because it was ‘there’ and identified. The problem was not. I didn’t connect her issues with her brother to the schizophrenia but to the slowly acknowledged memories.

    I so appreciate people’s honest and respectful ways to discuss differing thoughts/opinions. Kudos to the reviewer and you both for discussion to address it.

  4. I don’t know how I could be more proud of you and elated for you. Rock on Darlin’!:)

    • Aww, thank you so much. It’s becoming an interesting ride. Because of the subject matter, I had no idea how it would go over. Glad you’ve been along on the journey with me. Dare I ask how’s it going with your packing? Big hug & ❤

      • The packing hasn’t started yet. Phil’s company is taking care of that. Culling is about done. What’s left here is going. My sewing room was the worst!

      • You’re so lucky Phil’s company is taking care of it. Wadda relief! Did I hear sewing room! I have some jeans that need… oh never mind, you’re already too overwhelmed. If you disappear from cyberville, I’ll understand why and know I’ll see you soon. ❤

  5. jbw0123 says:

    So exciting to see all these great reviews. Congatulations!

  6. jbw0123 says:

    Nice reviews. I’m with you on the portrayal of schizophrenia, in this context.

  7. Good review of Hanratty. I used to have disdain for this genre of “see how I suffered” books.
    I have matured to have an appreciation for them as many people go through similar challenges and it helps to know someone understands whether fiction or non fiction and to see how people dealt with it. As I advance in years and health decline I find this type of book valuable reading.

  8. Clowie says:

    Congratulations on the great reviews!

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