First Person Plural by Cameron West

First Person Plural by Cameron West is a powerful non-fiction novel about abuse, repressed memories and, above all, dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities). West was diagnosed with the disorder as an adult. This book chronicles the first few years of Cameron's illness. The entire book is written in first person x 24. It is really Cameron telling the story, but you get to see what many of his "guys" have to say. What they have to say is terrifying, touching and horribly sad.

In First Person Plural, Cameron West introduces himself during a time in his life when he is very ill and is trying to maintain healthy relationships with his wife and son. He has not yet been diagnosed with DID. He suffers from a sinus condition that has nearly cost him his life. Cameron later finds out that it could have been solved by a simple allergy test. He learns to avoid eating things that trigger his sinus problems and he gradually gets better. The reader cannot help but cheer on this unassuming, obviously kind and hurting man as he starts to get better.

Unfortunately, Cameron West does not stay better for long. He ends up on a mental rollercoaster, which he conveys in a personal, revealing and undeniably readable fashion. From the moment Cam begins to feel a little strange, the book is extremely difficult to put down. Anyone who has any kind of empathetic feelings will need a box of tissues while they turn page after page hoping for some salvation for Cam, Clay, Per, Dusty, Mozart and the rest of "my guys."

One of the things that grab you the most about First Person Plural is how badly Cameron wants to keep his family and have a life, despite his newly found memories of sexual abuse. His plight is the mental equivalent of a quadriplegic wanting to find a way to walk properly again. He takes the reader on his path to a better life, one where he has to except that he will never "walk" properly again, but he will walk. He will also have his wife and son alongside him if he chooses to accept the pieces of his personality that choose to live a separate existence.

A lesser writer would have taken the context of Cam's life and made it seem like trashy V.C. Andrews vitriol. Cameron West reminds the reader that this is not drama; it is his reality. People really are hurt this deeply and need help this badly. People who look, talk or act funny because of a mental illness are not jokes, liars or "nuts." Chances are, they are normal people like you, who had something terrible happen to them and/or their brain is malfunctioning. Cameron's first person plural perspective shows us what it would be like to be that person and it hurts, badly.

Shelly Barclay

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