Girl from the Tree House by Gudrun Frerichs

This book came to my attention when the author enquired about a translation into German. I was totally baffled by the whole concept. Not the translation, that’s easy enough to grasp, but by the concept of writing a book about a person with multiple personalities from the point of view of these varied personalities.

I had to read it. Each chapter starts with the name of the personality currently controlling the body, which is important to understand what is going on. Most of the personalities are aware of each other and communicate. They live together in an imaginary tree house and each one plays an important role in the Tribe, as they call themselves. Only Elise is unaware of the rest and lives a nightmare, because every time another personality takes over the body, she has no memory of what happened and ends up in places she doesn’t remember going. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like.

As if this wasn’t fascinating enough, Elise and the Tribe are on the run. They desperately want to get away from the family who always kept them drugged and locked up. Bordering on a miracle, they make it to an old house that used to belong to their aunt. Memories pop up and cause havoc within the Tribe, while things on the outside take nasty turns as well. But there are a few precious people to trust and the whole mystery gets resolved in the end, but not without considerable drama.

This book had me captured and especially towards the end on the edge of my seat. The different personalities are really different, not just hues of, let’s say, a woman in her mid-thirties. No, there are children, boys, girls, young men and women and older adults as well, each of them carrying a part of a completely fragmented memory and serving a different function to make life manageable. Such a disorder doesn’t simply happen, it is usually the result of massive abuse or trauma. This topic was dealt with very delicately by the author, who named the deed, but didn’t describe it, for which I am immensely grateful.

Frerichs has created a one-of-a-kind thriller with her vast experience as a therapist. This book is a big step towards understanding what we so inadequately name mental illness and also gives some advice on how to treat people suffering from it. Or should I say, the observant reader will take note of the emotions described in the story, when the Tribe is called crazy, and try to avoid such reactions.

I highly recommend reading this book!

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