Broken Brain, Fortified Faith Book Review

Virginia Pillars shares a remarkable story of God working through her daughter’s illness.

Book Review

Broken Brain, Fortified Faith

Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness

By Virginia Pillars



Broken Brain, Fortified Faith (Familius, 2016) is the story of one family’s journey as it navigates the challenges of mental illness and seeks help for their daughter diagnosed with schizophrenia. This book not only engages and inspires, but it provides practical wisdom, too.


Broken Brain is a mother’s memoir that begins with the first presentation of her daughter, Amber’s disorder.  Feelings of doubt, fear, and helplessness threaten to overwhelm the author as she witnesses bizarre changes developing in her daughter. Beset with paranoia and a lack of insight, Amber doesn’t help matters. Instead of finding compassion and understanding, the family’s initial encounter with the healthcare system goes poorly. Through education, support, and God’s grace, they begin to experience not only recovery but personal transformation and growth.


The book is well-written. The author effectively tells the story and shares her interior struggles without allowing the narrative to get bogged down in self-absorbed commentary. Pillars’ imagery and character development help make the telling of Broken Brain not only engaging but even gripping. She seamlessly addresses issues related to hospitalization, guardianship, disability, finances, communication, support groups, education, and agencies without becoming didactic. Without glossing over the difficulties she encounters, the author maintains a positive tone and concludes with a strong message of hope.


I like how Pillars’ shares her spiritual journey. Tempted to give in to doubt and grief, she demonstrates how God uses her trials and suffering to help her grow and know him better. Without preaching, her example provides readers with practical wisdom and encouragement.


I recommend Broken Brain, Fortified Faith, not only to those who have a family member or friend struggling with mental illness but to anyone looking for encouragement and inspiration.

Kevin Luksus


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