BOOK REVIEW: Unraveling My Father’s Suicide


By: Tom Duggan, Feb. ’16

Local author Kathleen LaPlante’s book, “Unraveling My Father’s Suicide” is an emotionally heart-wrenching story about her life experiences after the loss of her father to suicide on her 21st birthday while she was away at college.

Her journey for answers courageously brings you through her mental health struggles, including the insane maze of the mental health-care system, her spiritual journey as a Catholic, and her family journey of learning and understanding the history of suicide in her lineage.

This is not a comfortable subject for anyone to talk about, or hear about. The misconceptions most people have about people with mental health issues and/or past suicide attempts usually makes people flee the subject. But, this book makes the uncomfortable matters at hand much more comfortable as she peppers both fond and not so fond memories of her father when she was a child.

Having had a strained relationship with her dad, who drank heavily and abused her mother, Kathleen’s understanding of her own pain, guilt, and doubt, exposes her own feelings and failings in a way that the reader will be thinking about this book for years after reading it.

Kathleen is compelling in her honesty. Even on the first page of the introduction, where she admits that everyone’s experiences and memories of her life events may be different, her open admission that her account might, somewhere in it’s content, not be 100% perfect, is refreshing.

Especially in a world where people who have different memories of an event usually end up in a battle over who “lied” rather than a discussion of who may just be remembering wrong.

Knowing this, Kathleen went to members of her family and talked to them about her memories to not only refresh her memories but, to verify if she was remembering everything correctly. She took great pains to present an honest and revealing account of her childhood and the life-changing event of her dad’s suicide.

“Unraveling My Father’s Suicide” is a wonderfully written book that is easy to read.

More importantly, it is easy to conceptualize in your minds and heart, as she painfully taps into the love-hate relationship she had with her father, his past, and what he had done.

This book is about learning and loving after a life altering experience at such a young age and how that carried through an adult life fraught with a search for answers.