Haley from I Lay Reading recommended He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird to me, and from the time I started to read it was clear why. He Wanted the Moon is part scientific narrative and part memoir. (Both are types of non-fiction I thoroughly enjoy.) The book chronicles part of the time that Dr. Perry Baird, who suffered from bipolar disorder, spent in a mental institution in the 1940’s.
Dr. Baird wrote his memoir during his institutionalization. Fifty years later his daughter, Mimi Baird, discovered them during her quest to learn more about her father. This book was her publishing them as he desired. In addition to his personal account, she has included notes on his progression from his doctors. This makes the story a fascinating tale. It allows you to see what he believed happened, as well as how his doctors perceived his actions. You also read about some of the horrifying treatments used for mental illness at the time, and the way those treatments made Dr. Baird feel as he was receiving them.
The last third of He Wanted the Moon, is Mimi’s scarce recollections of her father and her journey to learn more about him. She was never told much about him as a child, just that he was “ill” or “away.” And while her personal story isn’t as fascinating as her father’s, you get the image of her as this headstrong force. Someone who wants to know her own story by knowing his. She also details some of his accomplishments he made trying to understand his own disease.
He Wanted the Moon is fascinating look at the life of someone with mental illness in the 1940s. I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys memoirs and/or historical or scientific narratives.
Disclaimer: I received a free paperback copy of He Wanted the Moon for review from Blogging For Books. Amazon links are affiliate links.