As this book opens you get inside of Errki's head immediately with no distinction between fantasy and reality. Errki's delusions are so real that it gives you a feeling of what it's like to be inside a schizophrenic's head. The portrayal of Errki was bang-on. I was really impressed with Fossum's skill as a writer to bring schizophrenia into reality and make it very sympathetic, which it is.
The number of schizophrenics who commit violent crimes is very small relative to the general population. It's just that when they do, it's sensationalized and so we hear about it more. Fossum did her research very well in that she portrays Errki as being very disturbed, very ill, but non-violent except when cornered. Fossum understands schizophrenic illness very well, in that it's not a trick she's playing, not something to draw the audience in. It's part of his character, who he is, and she really does a wonderful job of making his illness accessible.
I thought that the book reflected society in both cases, like the understanding and compassionate police service, and the avoidance and tolerance of mental illness, like the store clerk allowing Errki to steal chocolate bars.
Every character in the book had a story to tell, and resonated in a likeable way. Even if you disliked them in the beginning, as they were each revealed you began to really like them. You understand they have their own reasons for being. I love books that create a deeper understanding of the psyche and this one definitely did. We're all alone, but we're not so different from one another.
Other reviews by Dr. Judy Ustina: