Zig-Zag Boy

Madness, Motherhood and Letting Go

Tanya Frank author


Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers

Published:2nd Mar '23


Available for immediate dispatch.

This hardback is available in another edition too:

Zig-Zag Boy cover

‘[A] moving, beautifully written book about love and mental health and life’ BOB ODENKIRK ‘Fiercely intelligent, humane and necessary’ NATHAN FILER, author of THE SHOCK OF THE FALL 'At its heart a story about love … an astonishing new voice' ALI MILLAR, author of THE LAST DAYS

‘I’m scared the bad people will hear me talking to you.’

I watch him take his notebook and a marker pen from his bag. As he zips the compartment back up I see the tip of our large, serrated kitchen knife, the one that went missing last night.

Zach was nineteen when Tanya discovered him rerouting the wires of their landline, sure that the phone was bugged, that his friends were Mafia, that the helicopters swirling above were deployed by spies, that he couldn’t trust anyone – her included.

That moment upturned and unmoored everything. It would strand them both in a profound and terrifying isolation the way that perhaps only a psychotic break – or loving someone who is experiencing one – can.

Zig-Zag Boy is a journey along the tough frontiers of love and madness. As Tanya fights for answers and understanding – coming up against broken healthcare systems in the UK and the US – she is forced to question whether there were warning signs she missed, whether Zach will be able to have a normal life, and what ‘normal’ really means.

‘By turns an eloquent meditation on the power of nature and a terrifying expose … [an] intense, readable journey … fresh with keenly observed details … What Zig-Zag Boy does best is put you inside the dark recesses of living with a mentally ill adult child, an experience that is on the rise … hopefully it will inspire the most important quality of all among providers, police officers and the public: empathy’
Beth Macy, New York Times

‘A moving portrait of a mother's love for her son. It is also a fiercely intelligent, humane and necessary contribution to mental health literature’
Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall

'At its heart a story about love; the lengths a mother will go to in a bid to understand her child … Rendered in prose that rings clear and true, Zig-Zag Boy announces an astonishing new voice'
Ali Millar, author of The Last Days

‘Takes us to the heart of loving and parenting a child in the most intensive and often heartbreaking way. Marked by wonderful storytelling, a wry sense of humour and a determination to tell the truth no matter what, you will get lost in this story. And be the better for it’
Emily Rapp, author of The Still Point of the Turning World

‘Starts by chronicling a mother’s nightmare as her promising son falls into psychosis, but ends up being far more than the story of what happens when we fear for the life of someone we love. A searing indictment of the medical industrial complex across continents’
Gina Frangello, author of Blow Your House Down

‘A wonder. I loved this book and loved the family at the heart of it … This is a beautiful book’
Mark Lukach, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

‘In unforgettable imagery and nuanced prose, Tanya Frank gives us an incredible journey’
Susan Straight

‘A beautiful, vibrant, powerful memoir about both holding tight and letting go’
Gayle Brandeis

ISBN: 9780008382841

Dimensions: 222mm x 141mm x 23mm

Weight: 340g

224 pages