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BOOK REVIEW: Climbing toward November

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Admittedly, this isn’t just a review. This is partly a confession and primarily a book review of Ember Manos-Belle novel Climbing Toward November. I have a difficult time reading. Even as a book author and literary scholar. There, I’ve confessed it.

I don’t often read. This read was unexpected and a rare treat for me. This author is a modern-day maverick in the literary realm. She has moxie. There, I said it. She takes on topics usually traversed by people of authority, credence, and maybe even the law. In this sense, the reader is left asking: who exactly, is Ember Manos-Belle. Is she a lawyer, doctor, sociologist, anthropologist?

After reading Climbing Toward November, the reader cannot be certain as a wide, comprehensive range of topics, issues, and taboos are passed through with the author’s gentle, humorous, and at times, whimsical approach. With a scholarly hand, Ember both gestures, and questions long-standing social issues. In doing so, her at times, idealist way of seeing the world is juxtaposed with base, trite, and unfiltered realism.

This book is real. This book is raw. The filter is there, hanging by a thread. As the book unfolds, this thread dangles. Hanging, mocking, and revealing the real darkness within Ember. Darkness familiar to most of us all too often when we choose to get in touch with our emotions and connect with the world even when it is active is rejecting us.

Over the course of a day, the reader will climb towards November with Ember. This is a journey that begins with a door. An extended metaphor carried through the life of the protagonist as the reader ascends into the literary world of Manos-Belle’s masterpiece! I highly recommend this book to everyone.

 

 

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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