Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness by Karen Tyrrell: Emerging Writers’ Festival joins us for 366 Days of Writing

Karen Tyrrell’s Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness follows the struggle one woman has had in, firstly, identifying and secondly treating her mental illness. The duality of personalities within the one individual; a healthy Karen and the contrasting ‘her’, who embodies all the negative aspects of the author’s illness, recount the struggles and triumphs of the author. Incidents taking place at the school where Tyrrell teaches are catalyst for an emotional breakdown that affects her more deeply than she initially leads her family and peers to believe. The progression into illness is conveyed through both fact and a dreamlike fiction, combining into a single expression of ‘madness’.

Tyrrell endeavors to communicate periods of desperation and anxiety through the rapid conveyance of events surrounding the beginnings of her dual episodes. While the reader is invited to share an understanding of Tyrrell’s emotions, ultimately this understanding is difficult to develop into a true involvement with character. Sincere moments of empathy are fleeting due to the bombardment of recollections surrounding key moments in the development of the memoir. This, however, does not detract from the honesty of experience that Me and Her offers, in that it allows us access to Tyrrell’s own experiences of mental illness as well as that of her family, friends and colleagues all of whom played a role in her ultimate recovery and eventual management of mental illness.

Review by Holly Radunz

The NSW Writers’ Centre is publishing a series of reviews of emerging writers, by emerging writers, to coincide with the Emerging Writers Festival, 24th May – 3rd June.

The Emerging Writers’ Festival begins in Melbourne this week and to mark the occasion there will be eleven reviews over the next eleven days – the duration of the festival – where self-published books will be featured.

There was fierce competition to be included in this project – both in terms of interested authors and reviewers! – and there will be a variety of genres being showcased. More than enough to whet the appetites of readers!


Taking our cue from the National Year of Reading 2012, we’re having our very own National Year of Writing 2012, aka 366 Days of Writing.

Send your reviews in to us! We want to hear about great Australian books, be they new or old, fiction, poetry, plays, short stories, memoir – we want the lot! This year is all about promoting Australian books and Australian readers. Reviews should be between 200 and 400 words.

Send reviews to sbarnes(write at)

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