LIBRARY NEWS: Poignant Memoir by Local Author

Local author Elaine Taylor and her sister Julie Hanes (both are pen names) have written a book titled “Seasons of Insanity” about living with their older sister Jane (also not her real name), who is mentally ill. It is a poignant, powerful and painful family story, with no happy ending.

It is not an easy book to read – or, no doubt, to write. But it is a well-crafted story that will be deeply touching to many readers as you follow two girls going from childhood to adulthood trying to navigate the difficult and complex situation that Jane puts them in – especially after their mother dies and they are forced to take on more responsibility for their sick sister.

While it is natural to be sympathetic to Jane, one of her doctors called her “a great manipulator.” Even when Elaine and Julie were babies, Jane was cruel and abusive to them, physically and mentally. Her mother (a hoarder like Jane) enabled her nasty habits by saying Jane was just “different.” Jane’s behavior was so unpleasant that over time she was banned from virtually all the church, community, senior center and other groups she joined.

Leaving personalities aside, though, it is clear that the mental health system failed Jane and her whole family, offering little support or guidance from experienced professionals. Readers are likely to marvel at Elaine’s and Julie’s loyalty, generosity and kindness in keeping in touch with Jane across so many years and miles in the face of her ingratitude.

As Elaine wrote in the book, self-preservation becomes a goal as this untenable situation brings “cruel discord to your life.”

Julie put it this way: “When she [Jane] is stabilized, she is still weird. She needs our support, and we will be there for her as much as possible, but not to our detriment.”

Elaine said she and her sister decided to write the book and donate a copy to the Sisson Library with the thought that it might help others cope with mental illness in their families.

“We want them to know that you can’t fix the situation and you can’t feel guilty. You just have to go with it and do your best. Many families can’t put up with it. That’s why we have so many mentally ill people among the homeless.”

Elaine hopes the story of her family brings some comfort to others facing similar issues.

Library closures
Your library will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Days.

All-ages Christmas fun today
We hope you will join us for a free event to create candy and chocolate holiday treats today (Thursday, December 21) from 4-6 p.m. Put your creative talents to the test and indulge your sweet tooth. Using candy and chocolate, we will be making holiday goodies everyone will enjoy.

All-ages gaming tomorrow
Join us tomorrow (Friday, December 22) from 2-3:15 p.m. for a free all-ages gaming session where you can enjoy video gaming on Wii and X-box 360 Kinect with your friends and family.

Teen role-playing
The free role-playing game for 7th-12th graders takes place next Wednesday, December 27 from 3-4:30 p.m. Use your imagination to go on adventures and battle monsters. You can join this group any time.

Free reading with therapy dogs
Next Thursday, December 28 from 10-11 a.m., youngsters from K-fifth grades are invited to share their favorite books with Hondo, a therapy dog who loves listening to stories, at a Paws to Read session. This is a great way for beginning readers to build confidence.

Adult education
Our PALS program – Pagosa Adult Learning Services – takes place three days a week. Note: No sessions December 21, 26 or 28.

Baby and Toddler storytime
Please note that baby and toddler storytimes are cancelled this Saturday, December 23.

“The Blue & Gray Almanac” by Albert Nofi tells the story of the Civil War through essays, anecdotes and facts. “Schwinn: The Best Present Ever” by Don Rauf is a celebration of America’s favorite bicycle. “Strange But True, Colorado” by John Hafnor, illustrated by Dale Crawford, tells weird tales of the Wild West. “Year in Sports 2018” is a Scholastic guide to the next year in sports. “Trials of the Earth” by Mary Mann Hamilton is the true story of a pioneer woman on the Mississippi. “Scars of Independence” by Holger Hoock explores the violence of the American Revolution. “Rogue Heroes” by Ben Macintyre documents the history of Britain’s Special Air Service. “Step-by-step Knifemaking” by David Boyce guides you through each stage in the design and fabrication of a knife.

Large print
“Promise Me, Dad” by Joe Biden is a memoir by the vice president. “Enchantress of Numbers” by Jennifer Chiaverini is a novel about the daughter of Lord Byron. “Righteous” by Joe Ide is an IQ mystery.

“The Medici” tells of the Italian family who were patrons to Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Galileo and more. “Jack London’s Call of the Wild” features eight episodes from the TV series. “Freedom Riders” is a documentary about these courageous civil rights activists. “The Wild Pony” follows a young boy’s relationship with a pony. “I am Not Your Negro” is an examination of race in America inspired by James Baldwin. “Eight Days a Week” explores the rise and success of the Beatles. “Dickensian” interacts famous Dickens’ characters in the same world. “Holiday Greatest Classic Films” includes “Christmas in Connecticut” and “The Shop Around the Corner.”

Programmed Nooks
We have nine free Nooks and three free tablets programmed for your e-reading pleasure. The eight adult content e-readers contain either fiction or nonfiction bestsellers. The four youth e-readers contain books for children, juniors and young adults.

Thanks for our donors
For books and materials this week, we thank Diane Bower and our anonymous donors. For their generous monetary donations, we are grateful to Sandy Kobrock and Mark Mueller.

Quotable Quote
“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” – John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American naturalist, author and environmental philosopher.

For more information on library books, services and programs – and to reserve books, e-books, CDs and DVDs from the comfort of your home – please visit our website at


Carole Howard & Library Staff

The Ruby Sisson Memorial Library has been located at 811 San Juan Street (corner of S. 8th and Hwy 160) since 1989. The library is overseen by the Upper San Juan Library District, a tax-funded special district in Archuleta County.