To say I have been a fan over everything Jacqueline Cioffa has ever written would be an understatement. The woman has been gifted with the art of exquisite storytelling the likes of few others, and when she reached out to me to read an advance copy of her memoir, The Red Bench, I was beyond honoured.
I have sat in my own madness and I have never once claimed it to be beautiful. I have slit my own wrists and begged for sweet death and I have never once claimed it to be beautiful. Madness and torment, the sheared edges of a broken mind have never once been beautiful, but the way Jacqueline Cioffa writes about her descent and ascent into and back out of madness is nothing short of beautiful.
It is the mark of a true poet, a writer for the times, a soul breaking and beckoning love, to be able to take a little slice of the world’s darkest tragedies and write them as if they were light. I am not trying to downplay the struggle and the suffering that Jackie had lived, but I am attempting to put it into words that appeal to everyone who would never think to pick up a memoir about mental illness, because everyone should not only pick this memoir up and read it cover to cover, but they should also pass it along to every friend and family member they have.
I could throw stats at you and tell you that one in five people will have their world rocked by mental illness, but I would rather recommend The Red Bench and everything Jaqueline Cioffa has ever written because she has written it all unashamedly, unequivocally, and with beauty the likes our modern writers are lacking.
It has been a pleasure to read The Red Bench, and it has been a comfort to know that someone else in this world has felt what I have, has battled the same demons I have fought, and has walked out of hell while dusting themselves off and freeing their hands to pull the rest of us out.
Jaqueline Cioffa is my Red Bench and her story is the one too many of us have choked on because we could never swallow the truth. This is a book for all of us and Jacqueline is the treasure we all can celebrate.