The Kevin Show: An Olympic Athlete's Battle with Mental Illness

In the face of trauma, we often reach a stage of disbelief, wondering if the scene we're witnessing is real or not, but eventually we accept our perceptions and move on. For Kevin Hall, the boundary between reality and his discernment of the world is hazier than most. In The Kevin Show, Mary Pilon uses many points of view accurately and expertly to share the struggles Kevin has faced throughout most of his adult life as he contends with his bipolar disorder--what doctors call "Truman Show delusions."

Kevin is an athlete, who quickly made a name for himself in the sailing world, winning numerous races as he advanced toward his life's goal--becoming a member of the Olympic sailing team and winning a gold medal. But as his skills progressed, so did his mental issues. On multiple occasions, over the course of decades, Kevin went into manic states and believed he was on The Show, with everyone and everything around him just part of a new episode put together by The Director. These episodes were juxtaposed with his non-manic life, which was filled with competitions, falling in love, the lows that come after a manic state and facing another physical setback--cancer.

Pilon's portrayal of Hall's creative and exhilarating highs and devastating slumps, as well as her inclusion of accounts by family and friends, help readers see just how convoluted Hall's life really is. It opens a much-needed window into the world of mental illness and the effects the mind has on a person. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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