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The Perfect Other: A Memoir of My Sister

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All Kait Leddy had ever wanted was a little sister. When Kyleigh was born, they were inseparable; Kait would protect her, include her, cuddle and comfort her, and, to Kyleigh, her big sister was her whole world. As they grew, however, and as Kait entered adolescence, her personality began to change. She was lashing out emotionally and physically, and losing touch with reali All Kait Leddy had ever wanted was a little sister. When Kyleigh was born, they were inseparable; Kait would protect her, include her, cuddle and comfort her, and, to Kyleigh, her big sister was her whole world. As they grew, however, and as Kait entered adolescence, her personality began to change. She was lashing out emotionally and physically, and losing touch with reality in certain ways. The family struggled to keep this side of Kait private—at school and in her social life, she was still the gorgeous, effervescent life of the party with a modeling career ahead of her and big dreams. But slowly, things began to shatter, and Kyleigh could only watch in horror as her perfect sibling’s world collapsed around her. Kait was institutionalized with what would eventually be diagnosed as schizophrenia, leaving Kyleigh and their mother to handle the burden, shame, and guilt alone. Then, in January 2014, Kait disappeared. Though they never found her body, security footage showed her making her way onto a big bridge over a river, where it is presumed that she jumped. Kyleigh is left wondering: What could she have done differently? How could this shining light be gone? And how will she find peace without her sister to guide her way there?


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All Kait Leddy had ever wanted was a little sister. When Kyleigh was born, they were inseparable; Kait would protect her, include her, cuddle and comfort her, and, to Kyleigh, her big sister was her whole world. As they grew, however, and as Kait entered adolescence, her personality began to change. She was lashing out emotionally and physically, and losing touch with reali All Kait Leddy had ever wanted was a little sister. When Kyleigh was born, they were inseparable; Kait would protect her, include her, cuddle and comfort her, and, to Kyleigh, her big sister was her whole world. As they grew, however, and as Kait entered adolescence, her personality began to change. She was lashing out emotionally and physically, and losing touch with reality in certain ways. The family struggled to keep this side of Kait private—at school and in her social life, she was still the gorgeous, effervescent life of the party with a modeling career ahead of her and big dreams. But slowly, things began to shatter, and Kyleigh could only watch in horror as her perfect sibling’s world collapsed around her. Kait was institutionalized with what would eventually be diagnosed as schizophrenia, leaving Kyleigh and their mother to handle the burden, shame, and guilt alone. Then, in January 2014, Kait disappeared. Though they never found her body, security footage showed her making her way onto a big bridge over a river, where it is presumed that she jumped. Kyleigh is left wondering: What could she have done differently? How could this shining light be gone? And how will she find peace without her sister to guide her way there?

30 review for The Perfect Other: A Memoir of My Sister

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I have taken bites, chewed, swallowed, and digested more memoirs recently associated with mental illness, chronic illnesses, and every type of human craziness, and human chaos from every cell, gland, and organ in my body recently…. that I laugh at how disproportionately balanced all these books - too close together they became…. It’s been MARCH MADNESS MONTH. Perhaps I can get a March Memoir rebate— ….a partial refund from having over invested my time from narratives composed of so much personal e I have taken bites, chewed, swallowed, and digested more memoirs recently associated with mental illness, chronic illnesses, and every type of human craziness, and human chaos from every cell, gland, and organ in my body recently…. that I laugh at how disproportionately balanced all these books - too close together they became…. It’s been MARCH MADNESS MONTH. Perhaps I can get a March Memoir rebate— ….a partial refund from having over invested my time from narratives composed of so much personal experience? I think I can honestly say I’ve gone above and beyond my call of duty in the memoir department. This specific review is a ‘duo-combo’…of two such books read during the month of March… It’s been….. Pills, depression, drugs, smoking, suicide, mental illness, grief, vomiting, neglect, abuse, missing persons, missing a beloved mentally unwell sister, abandonment, loss, death, sadness, parental nightmares, crappy marriages, loneliness, things hard to say, divorces, stigmatized schizophrenia, engagements, borderline personality disorders, broken hearts, every psychological and psychiatric disorder, chronic illnesses, religious beliefs, meditation, spiritual awakenings, hopelessness, healing, hoping, eggs donated, never getting to say goodbye, unresolved situations, death acceptance, death desire, cancer, hospital stays, being restrained while in a hospital bed, loneliness, no boyfriends, divorces, annoying children, annoying mothers, annoying families, accusatory feisty accusations sexual assault, rape, covid, financial struggles, widows, nice Jewish men, diagnosed hypochondriacs, smart mothers, not smart mothers, menstruation, racial injustice, political nightmares, war, fake Social Security numbers fake families, fake names, runaways, maternity leaves, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, an astonishing a number of miserable people, crimes, murder, therapy sessions, tall people, short people, people with every single color eyes and hair imaginable, tattoo people, panic attacks. girls who had been beaten by their parents, adolescence struggles, righteous people, secrets, retail, therapy music, art therapy, rage, filthy whores, filthy housekeeping, eating disorders, school drop outs, social punishments, rainbow colored boots, rebels, lies, moody pouty complex compelling human stories and god knows what else! Each of the following books were interesting- heartfelt- honest in their own points of view and self expression— sometimes fascinating, sometimes exhaustingly enough….. but both books were real - have value….. who am I to say a persons memoir is anything less than their own extraordinary humanity…. The month of April is around the corner — March-Memoir-Madness-Month…. is coming to a climax… rumor has it…. ‘Once Upon a time’ stories and other genres are making a comeback! Truth: ….. FINAL THOUGHTS…. “The Perfect Other”…. Audiobook….10 hours and 32 minutes read by the author Kyleigh Leddy is not without flaws, a little too long, …. but is written with sincerity, passion, and love…. “Never Simple”, written by Liz Scheier Audiobook narrated Amy Landon …..8 hours and 27 minutes was heartbreaking and hilarious ….. written well….honest and compassionate. 4 stars for both books.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beary Into Books

    Rating 4 This was a well written memoir that held my interest the whole way through. I feel terrible for what the author went through but loved how honest her writing felt. It truly feels like she wants to share her sister's story in order to bring awareness and help others. It’s never easy talking about a loved one after they are gone and in this case Kyleigh never received closure about what truly happened to her sister on the day she disappeared. She never got to say goodbye or ask her sister Rating 4 This was a well written memoir that held my interest the whole way through. I feel terrible for what the author went through but loved how honest her writing felt. It truly feels like she wants to share her sister's story in order to bring awareness and help others. It’s never easy talking about a loved one after they are gone and in this case Kyleigh never received closure about what truly happened to her sister on the day she disappeared. She never got to say goodbye or ask her sister for forgiveness. Kyleigh blames herself for not noticing her sister’s illness sooner even though she was just a child/teenager. I think we always feel as though there is more we could/should have done. She mentions certain situations that could have played a bigger role in her sister’s illness and how she wishes she paid attention to them. Not only does this book share her sister’s struggle with schizophrenia it is also filled with statistics and relevant facts. While I felt like some of the statistics were not necessary and took away from some overall parts I do understand why she included them. Overall, I thought this book was good, hard to read at times due to the content but i would recommend it. It’s important for everyone to read about mental health to help us all understand it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Basic B's Guide

    The Perfect Other 💭 ⁣ ⁣ Thank you @marinerbooks and @harperaudio for the gifted arc and alc.⁣ ⁣ This memoir is Kyleigh’s personal account of her big sister’s battle with mental illness that ultimately leads to a disappearance. ⁣ ⁣ The author delicately navigates a thorough look inside her difficult but loving relationship with her sister and how she moves through the grief of losing her.⁣ ⁣ Leddy is a talented writer and listening to her narrate on audio was heartbreaking and beautiful. In 2019, she won The Perfect Other 💭 ⁣ ⁣ Thank you @marinerbooks and @harperaudio for the gifted arc and alc.⁣ ⁣ This memoir is Kyleigh’s personal account of her big sister’s battle with mental illness that ultimately leads to a disappearance. ⁣ ⁣ The author delicately navigates a thorough look inside her difficult but loving relationship with her sister and how she moves through the grief of losing her.⁣ ⁣ Leddy is a talented writer and listening to her narrate on audio was heartbreaking and beautiful. In 2019, she won The NY Times Modern Love college essay contest, which ultimately led to this book.⁣ ⁣ Although my loss is different from Leddy there was much she said that resonated with me and I particularly loved the second half of this book for that reason. Our lost loved ones live on in us and all around us.⁣ ⁣ “While your world screeched to a halt, the rest of society continued on. In all your loneliness, you have never felt more alone than this.”⁣ ⁣ I pray this brought you some comfort, Kyleigh. You’ve given many readers a gift. Your love for your sister shines bright.⁣

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐱𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐦𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞. Families are often at a complete loss in knowing how to help a child with mental illness, I think sometimes (often actually) people ignore the signs or put all their faith in one evaluation that misses the mark. It is a relief, to go along as though nothing is wrong, it’s just a strong or fiery personality. This is often how we fail each other. Fear is a driving forc via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐥𝐲 𝐞𝐱𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐦𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞. Families are often at a complete loss in knowing how to help a child with mental illness, I think sometimes (often actually) people ignore the signs or put all their faith in one evaluation that misses the mark. It is a relief, to go along as though nothing is wrong, it’s just a strong or fiery personality. This is often how we fail each other. Fear is a driving force, this is why people try to explain away the obvious until symptoms get out of hand, and every one is dealing with disaster. The most rotten part of all, the person who actually has to deal with the illness in their mind has no guidance, no help. People often look away from the person who is drowning, it’s not always out of cruelty, but the terror of not knowing how to help. The stigma, because of course it still exists with mental illness, look at all the understanding for say, autism (neurodevelopmental disorder); I can tell you despite all the bumper stickers and ribbons, people aren’t as understanding and non-judgmental as society would have you believe. Schizophrenia is a terrifying diagnosis for many, even with the best treatment, best intentions, all the available resources and money, a lot isn’t understood. Many people fear mental illness and are reluctant to see their child labeled. It isn’t easy to weigh and measure your own child, their stability. Kyleigh Leddy loved her sister, ‘lived in her footsteps’, but lost her to mental illness in a devastating act days before Kyleigh turned seventeen. One must remember while reading this memoir that she was only a teenager, and not an expert in mental health. It’s terrifying living in the claws of disease, and feeling helpless to rescue your loved one. It’s a double edged sword with mental health because the behavior is hard to comprehend, there is often love entangled with resentment. Kait was highly intelligent, mature, a force who was robbed of so much life. As Kyleigh confides, their childhood was swaddled, protected from ‘the hard edges of life’. Even in such families, you can fail to see the fault lines. Sometimes living in the story, you miss so much, until you can go back and reexamine the past. A child that pushes boundaries may well just be strong willed. Who is to assume it’s a sign of mental illness? Certainly Kyleigh later discovered her mother worried ceaselessly over Kait, but so do many parents, children are different. Not all ‘wild antics’ make mental illness. How can you recognize warnings you’ve never had experience with? We all have our eccentricities and peculiarities, especially highly intelligent people. Just where is the line? When did the moment arrive that foretold the mental disturbances in Kait? What would have prevented her jump off the bridge? How did they all fail her? There are just as many stories of people who were told time and again there is no mental illness or it’s behavioral only. A discipline problem, and sometimes that is the case. Doctors don’t always see the signs either and are hesitant to label. It is a hard book to read so certainly it must have been very hard to write for Kyleigh. It’s easy to imagine yourself as a savior in other people’s stories, how you would have done this, or prevented that. It’s all untrue. We fail people so often in our own lives, unintentionally. We have our blind spots, every single one of us. Even parents who go through the ‘proper’ channels and push to diagnose and go to treatments. I am not any smarter myself for helping my son through autism challenges, I am no hero, I can look back and see how I could have done this or that better and I had supports in place. Life can turn on a dime. Living with any health struggle (mental, or otherwise) is trial and error, none of us are experts, what works for one won’t work for another and it’s because we are individuals. There are just as many families who fight to get their loved ones to proper doctors, services and are failed (rich or not). You can be all in and still, progress isn’t happening. There are no quick fixes, it is a lifelong journey. There are people who refuse help and those who have tried to take the meds or therapies. Meds themselves cause symptoms, that you can’t ignore and fail to understand why a patient may give up on them. I hear so many people say, ‘well why did they stop taking their meds’? As if they have ever had to cope with the symptoms, or live in another’s headspace or try to rally the energy and money and time to care for someone. I learned a long time ago watching my grandmother and family with my uncle’s schizophrenia that there are no easy answers. It’s so easy to look at the mistakes others made in hindsight. Even armed with expertise, there are mistakes. Was it the head injury that caused everything for Kait? It’s plausible. One of the wisest lines, “It would be an injustice not to acknowledge how hard it is to care for someone when they are both suffering and inflicting suffering onto you.” Support is necessary for every family member. You can’t help another if you are overwhelmed and hurting yourself. We are not superhumans, nor saints. I think this is an important read, if another’s experience can help you spot the signs, or relate to their emotional experience then it should be welcomed. Both sisters have different experiences with mental illness, it disrupted both of their lives, and sadly it stole Kait’s future. If a family member struggles with any disease or health issue, they all have to cope with it, in varying degrees. Moving, heartbreaking. Publication Date: March 15, 2022 Mariner Books

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    It would be easy to summarize The Perfect Other as a memoir about experiencing a sister's battle with mental illness, and it would be true. But even with the author's deep clinical knowledge of schizophrenia (driven by her own research and experiences), it's really about love and how fiercely it persists. Like Kyleigh Leddy and her sister, Kait (whom she describes as "exuberantly bright," "confident and hilarious and at least five years ahead of every trend" - the kind of person people can't hel It would be easy to summarize The Perfect Other as a memoir about experiencing a sister's battle with mental illness, and it would be true. But even with the author's deep clinical knowledge of schizophrenia (driven by her own research and experiences), it's really about love and how fiercely it persists. Like Kyleigh Leddy and her sister, Kait (whom she describes as "exuberantly bright," "confident and hilarious and at least five years ahead of every trend" - the kind of person people can't help but write books about), my sister and I are five years apart. The Perfect Other pushed me to imagine what my life would have looked like if, through some accident of biology or neurochemistry or maybe even just few bad concussions, my beloved sister changed into someone I didn't recognize, someone dizzying and unpredictable and capable of violence - but deep down, still in there, fighting with voices for space inside her own head. What we and the world would have lost if she'd ultimately felt hopeless and overpowered enough to end her life at 22. I'm astonished that Leddy - who won the NYT's Modern Love college essay contest in 2019 - is only in her mid-twenties. Her reflections not just on her own experiences but on the human condition are beautifully written and hauntingly accurate. Consider this description of interactions with classmates and teachers after her sister has gone missing, presumed dead: "This is an essential lesson: The indifference of the world ... People will say, 'I can't imagine what you're going through.' What they won't say is, 'I don't want to.' You know this is a necessary, albeit unfortunate, limitation of human empathy: If society stopped to embrace the full scope of every loss, it would cease to function - no mail, no grocery delivery, no economy. We would be in a constant state of mourning, but to be grieving and watch the world continue on is the cruelest outrage." Yes, this is heartbreakingly true - but by telling this story in such a raw and honest way, she makes Kait real and forces the reader beyond indifference. The care she catalyzes starts out as specific to Kait, but later expands to many others. You can't read this book and not feel grief and empathy and love. I devoured this book in a few hours. There were a few occasions where Leddy's writing started to feel repetitive or rambling (more like a journal entry than a memoir), but this isn't surprising considering the subject matter - while we'd like to think of mental illness as tidy, as linear and predictable, it's anything but and I think this is a reflection of that. And while she does an impressive job of acknowledging Kait's and her family's relative privilege, I was struck by the use of "gypped" as a slur. Overall, I'm glad the world has Leddy as a writer. I'll be thinking about her, her mother, and Kait for a long time. Thanks to Mariner Books (formerly HMH Books) for my ARC.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Seitzer

    I received this as an ARC through Goodreads giveaways and it is a powerful story. It sheds light on schizophrenia, which is so stigmatized and not well understood by the general public. Leddy’s writing is superb and the second half of the book is so amazing as she describes her grief and how she moves on with her life and heals from her trauma.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stacy40pages

    The Perfect Other by Kyleigh Leddy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Kyleigh writes her true story experience of growing up with an older sister with schizophrenia. Talking about mental health is important and there’s been a push for it lately. While it’s fairly normal these days to discuss depression and anxiety, illnesses such as schizophrenia as still taboo. With her memoir, Kyleigh aims to bring schizophrenia to the conversation. She did a great job showing us what it is like to love someone with the Illness. A lot The Perfect Other by Kyleigh Leddy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Kyleigh writes her true story experience of growing up with an older sister with schizophrenia. Talking about mental health is important and there’s been a push for it lately. While it’s fairly normal these days to discuss depression and anxiety, illnesses such as schizophrenia as still taboo. With her memoir, Kyleigh aims to bring schizophrenia to the conversation. She did a great job showing us what it is like to love someone with the Illness. A lot of the gritty details weren’t laid out, which I appreciated because it could overtake the meaningfulness of the story. This was an interesting viewpoint, as Kyleigh was coming of age watching her sister’s struggles. I also loved how the author not only spoke from her experience, but was also sure to remind the reader several times that not everyone has access to healthcare; not everyone is comfortable calling the police for help, not everyone is in a position of privilege and how that can affect treatment of mental illness. “We had everything, and her everything would still collapse. It wasn’t enough. And if our foundation couldn’t save us, then whose can? Who stands a chance against mental illness?” “My sister was the kind of girl people write books about. I was the kind of girl who read such books, who listened to such songs and wondered how a spark in one person could light a flame in many others.” The Perfect Other came out yesterday, 3/14.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Holstrom

    Oh look, another absolutely devastating family memoir. “You wish there was an adequate term for what you are—like orphan or widower—a term that says ‘I once meant something to somebody.’” The only thing 6-year-old Kait Leddy wanted in life was a sister. When Kyleigh finally arrived, the two were inseparable—until Kait hit adolescence, suffered head injuries, and started to change in scary ways. She was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and lived a volatile life in and out of healthcare faci Oh look, another absolutely devastating family memoir. “You wish there was an adequate term for what you are—like orphan or widower—a term that says ‘I once meant something to somebody.’” The only thing 6-year-old Kait Leddy wanted in life was a sister. When Kyleigh finally arrived, the two were inseparable—until Kait hit adolescence, suffered head injuries, and started to change in scary ways. She was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and lived a volatile life in and out of healthcare facilities while Kyleigh watched on with a mix of fear and annoyance. The day after Kait disappeared, Kyleigh went to school, expecting it to be another incident they would move past. But that didn’t happen. Kait was last seen crossing a bridge, but never on the other side. A body was never found. The Perfect Other is a beautiful book about grief and loving someone who is mentally ill. Leddy’s work as a mental health advocate, especially with psychotic disorders, makes this an even more powerful book. ✨ From Mental Health Memoirs From the Sidelines at Crooked Reads.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Schwartz

    “I thought I was writing this to make my sister’s life matter, but it already does”, Leddy writes. This ARC was a GR giveaway; thanks so much to Harper Collins for it. Content warnings for this book include schizophrenia, mental illness, and suicide. Kyleigh Leddy did a remarkable job recounting her sister Kait’s difficult battle with schizophrenia, and how that and Kait’s assumed suicide impacted her and her family’s lives. In the acknowledgments she frankly admits how difficult it was to reliv “I thought I was writing this to make my sister’s life matter, but it already does”, Leddy writes. This ARC was a GR giveaway; thanks so much to Harper Collins for it. Content warnings for this book include schizophrenia, mental illness, and suicide. Kyleigh Leddy did a remarkable job recounting her sister Kait’s difficult battle with schizophrenia, and how that and Kait’s assumed suicide impacted her and her family’s lives. In the acknowledgments she frankly admits how difficult it was to relive all of it, which for readers I think is always important in connecting and relating to an author. She writes that she “wished to use writing and the study of psychology to illuminate misconceptions about mental illness”, and she did just that. I did feel, however, that there was a bit too much jumping around the timeline of events. It was often hard to follow as a result. In that light, there was often 2 or 3 separate stories being told at once. I also wonder why this is being referred to as a memoir; because while it is for much of the book, a large chunk talks more about grief and the specifics around schizophrenia and mental illness. All in all, I’m glad Leddy shared it all with us.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lissa00

    3.5 stars The author, Kyliegh Leddy, is only in her twenties but she writes beautifully about her sister who suffered so tragically with mental illness. Her vivacious sister started slowly exhibiting the warning signs of schizophrenia throughout her teens but quickly fell into the throes of full-blown mental illness after a head injury. The author, who is several years younger, and her stoic mother were left to deal with an increasingly violent situation. I found this terrifying and tragic and lo 3.5 stars The author, Kyliegh Leddy, is only in her twenties but she writes beautifully about her sister who suffered so tragically with mental illness. Her vivacious sister started slowly exhibiting the warning signs of schizophrenia throughout her teens but quickly fell into the throes of full-blown mental illness after a head injury. The author, who is several years younger, and her stoic mother were left to deal with an increasingly violent situation. I found this terrifying and tragic and lovingly written. I do think it could have been edited down as it sometimes felt overwritten and the best parts were when her sentences were clear, sparse and haunting. I definitely see the potential in this young author and will make sure to follow her career. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Long

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. I had a hard time getting through about the first 30% of this book but after that, I feel like it got much more interesting. The close bond between these two sisters is amazing when they were both young children. It's incredibly sad how schizophrenia took away most of that bond piece by piece but it never totally took the bond. The lack of closure is definitely a difficult thing to accept. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. I had a hard time getting through about the first 30% of this book but after that, I feel like it got much more interesting. The close bond between these two sisters is amazing when they were both young children. It's incredibly sad how schizophrenia took away most of that bond piece by piece but it never totally took the bond. The lack of closure is definitely a difficult thing to accept.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lbmayson

    This is a potentially very helpful book for those trying to understand mental illness in a friend or family member, particularly paranoid schizophrenia. The author switches back and forth between memories of her sister and a pretty advanced medical understanding of the disease. The last few chapters were very poignant and I wiped away some tears, but really appreciate this perspective.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashton

    So excited to read Kyleigh!!!!!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Lawrence

    Amazing. Eye opening. Inspiring. Kyleigh takes us through her life in a way I’ve never read before.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carlee Miller

    As soon as I started this book, I knew it was going to be hard to put down. This memoir tells the story of Kyleigh’s family and her older sister Kaitlyn’s (aka Kait) experience with schizophrenia. Leddy is incredibly honest, backs stories of her sister up with research, and fully acknowledges her inability to tell this story of her sister, her sister’s mental illness, and how it affected their family perfectly. I was so impressed with this book. It is so hard to watch someone you love struggle As soon as I started this book, I knew it was going to be hard to put down. This memoir tells the story of Kyleigh’s family and her older sister Kaitlyn’s (aka Kait) experience with schizophrenia. Leddy is incredibly honest, backs stories of her sister up with research, and fully acknowledges her inability to tell this story of her sister, her sister’s mental illness, and how it affected their family perfectly. I was so impressed with this book. It is so hard to watch someone you love struggle in any way, but particularly when their mind is messing with them. An eye-opening read on the devastating effects of mental health on those affected by something like schizophrenia, as well as their family members. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. Thank you to Mariner Books for providing me with this ARC for an honest review!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sue Allen

    Author tries to be woke and tries to be an author. She didn’t have to add a lot of the extras that described random buildings/places. “Dust on the shelf” It was like she was trying too hard. And trying to hard to be inclusive and include woke commentary - but only when she remembered. I think this would have been a great book if she wrote from the heart

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emily Shannon

    The Perfect Other is a tragic story about sisters. Kait is the perfect sister. She’s beautiful. She shines bright. She exceeds at everything. But as she enters adolescence, things begin to change. This is the story of one sister’s experience on how mental health challenges can happen so fast. It’s easy to miss early signs. It’s heartbreaking and grief-ridden. But a very gripping read. Thank you to Mariner Books and Harper Collins for the ARC. If you want a heart-gripping nonfiction novel, than t The Perfect Other is a tragic story about sisters. Kait is the perfect sister. She’s beautiful. She shines bright. She exceeds at everything. But as she enters adolescence, things begin to change. This is the story of one sister’s experience on how mental health challenges can happen so fast. It’s easy to miss early signs. It’s heartbreaking and grief-ridden. But a very gripping read. Thank you to Mariner Books and Harper Collins for the ARC. If you want a heart-gripping nonfiction novel, than this your book!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meg Vondriska

    I found this book pretentious with a healthy dose of holier than thou. Leddy talks about her family's struggle to understand her sister's diagnosis and the horror of seeing her transform in her most destructive moments; as painful as those passages are, they fall to the side to lengthy pages discussing the linguistic origin of schizophrenia and seemingly random statistics. While I empathize with Leddy's story, and how scary it must have been to see the dark side of her sister, I struggle, too, wi I found this book pretentious with a healthy dose of holier than thou. Leddy talks about her family's struggle to understand her sister's diagnosis and the horror of seeing her transform in her most destructive moments; as painful as those passages are, they fall to the side to lengthy pages discussing the linguistic origin of schizophrenia and seemingly random statistics. While I empathize with Leddy's story, and how scary it must have been to see the dark side of her sister, I struggle, too, with it. Leddy's family had the financial means and access to find answers, but instead, when Kait was 13, they took her to a single child psychologist who ruled Kait fine and never pursued a diagnosis again. And while this is a somewhat memoir, as much as Leddy discusses the roots of schizophrenia, and how it took so long for her sister to be diagnosed, she glosses over that diagnoses for it are much more difficult if you are person of color. I felt a lot of the book was rooted in elitism and was unintentionally pretentious, with Leddy slipping in sentences of how her mom had a florist on speed dial, how they summered in Nantucket, the private schools they attended... I feel for Leddy and her family, but hers is not the only sister with mental illness who has vanished

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jane Dennish

    This memoir focuses on the author's tumultuous relationship with her sister. Her sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia after a number of head injuries. This book is a good mix of interesting information about mental health and a narrative about one girl's journey. There are many parts that I found interesting in the book. I liked the discussion about how we use the words "crazy" or "psychotic" in our everyday language. I have. myself, been more cognizant of this in the classroom. I try not to This memoir focuses on the author's tumultuous relationship with her sister. Her sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia after a number of head injuries. This book is a good mix of interesting information about mental health and a narrative about one girl's journey. There are many parts that I found interesting in the book. I liked the discussion about how we use the words "crazy" or "psychotic" in our everyday language. I have. myself, been more cognizant of this in the classroom. I try not to say "That's crazy" when I really mean something is ridiculous. It is a hard habit to break, especially since it has been apart of our language for so long. I also was interested in the parts the discussed the sister's episodes of psychosis. I once had a student go into a psychotic break in my classroom, only to find out later that the family suspected she had schizophrenia. They had noticed issues at home and there was a long line of family history with the disease. I found these examples to be similar to what I experienced with the student. I felt empathy for the author for having to go through all of this at a young age. It definitely impacted her. She discusses this impact on her 17th birthday, but I wish there was more of her actually discussing how all of this made her feel. A lot of the book felt like it was just telling us events that happened, as opposed to how those events impacted her. The impact was implied but not explicitly explained, as I appreciate in a memoir. The writing style didn't connect with me. There were times where I felt it was really disjointed and jumped around. I had to force myself to pay attention at times. Thanks so much to Mariner books for an Advanced Reader's Copy. This book came out in March 2022.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer *Nottoomanybooks*

    3.5/5 “My sister walks to the peak of the Benjamin Franklin bridge. Kait walking. Kait, then poof, gone.” I jumped out of my thriller comfort zone to read this memoir that was sent to me by Mariner Publishing and @kyleighleddy. Right away, the synopsis interested me. I have always been curious about schizophrenia and other similar mental illnesses. Kyleigh did a fabulous job capturing her sister before and during her illness. I felt the pain and hurt her family went through as her sister, Kait grew 3.5/5 “My sister walks to the peak of the Benjamin Franklin bridge. Kait walking. Kait, then poof, gone.” I jumped out of my thriller comfort zone to read this memoir that was sent to me by Mariner Publishing and @kyleighleddy. Right away, the synopsis interested me. I have always been curious about schizophrenia and other similar mental illnesses. Kyleigh did a fabulous job capturing her sister before and during her illness. I felt the pain and hurt her family went through as her sister, Kait grew up and progressed in her schizophrenia. Researching all of the possible reasons why her sister could have gotten sick…. What stuck out to me were the theories about concussions and head trauma leading to a higher possibility of developing this illness, as well as having PCOS. Kait grew up as a loving, kind, wild girl who fiercely loved her sister. Little by little, signs start popping up that she may be unwell, but they aren’t anything that would make you stop and think…..Oh my gosh! She has a mental illness! The instances were bits and pieces here and there, that make you wonder if she is acting out behaviorally. That’s all. Until they isn’t. Her behavior gets more and more erratic and scary to the point her own family is scared of her. The last part of the book walks us through the grieving and healing process of the family after Kait walks onto a bridge and disappears. The police say it was suicide. I can only imagine the horrors Kait went through struggling with things her brain was telling her while trying to keep some bit of her old self with her. I really enjoyed this memoir, if you are looking for a true story to read, you should give this one a chance!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sophia Kontra

    Kyleigh’s narrative of her and her sister’s story is beautifully written. She touches on the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of what it is like to watch someone close to you struggle, how their struggle affects the support system around them, and the grieving process that comes after a loss. This book sheds light on the stigma around mental illness, opening the conversation to suggest more empathy instead of fear for those suffering. While tough to read at points, Kyleigh’s memoir is equ Kyleigh’s narrative of her and her sister’s story is beautifully written. She touches on the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of what it is like to watch someone close to you struggle, how their struggle affects the support system around them, and the grieving process that comes after a loss. This book sheds light on the stigma around mental illness, opening the conversation to suggest more empathy instead of fear for those suffering. While tough to read at points, Kyleigh’s memoir is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    What a beautiful yet sad memoir of a family battling mental illness with so many beautiful moments in between. Written by the younger sister, Kyleigh of her older sister by 5 years, Kait and her slow turn toward uncontrollable & dismissive behaviors that finally received a diagnosis of schizophrenia in her teens. The Author’s strong and unrelenting love carry’s you through the memories from when they were children and inseparable and the timeless moments that build a bond like no other. Then to What a beautiful yet sad memoir of a family battling mental illness with so many beautiful moments in between. Written by the younger sister, Kyleigh of her older sister by 5 years, Kait and her slow turn toward uncontrollable & dismissive behaviors that finally received a diagnosis of schizophrenia in her teens. The Author’s strong and unrelenting love carry’s you through the memories from when they were children and inseparable and the timeless moments that build a bond like no other. Then to see how a disease of the brain can take that away and turn the person you knew like yourself into a stranger. Them treating you with criticism and not including you in their life. Watching and waiting while they make disastrous decisions and not a care of the fall out on themselves or their family. The Author’s stories combine keen precision of just how mental illness can slowly and silently strike any family and tear it apart. Watching your loved one being taken from you while you do everything in your power to save them. And she highlights the facts how mental illness is glossed over and not always taken seriously; referred instead to a teenager going through growing pains. Perhaps if taken more seriously at first signs of personality change; the proper treatment could be put in place. As someone who deals with mental illnesses, I found this read to be touching and heartbreaking and I feel a bond to the Author and feel as if I suffered a loss too. This is a must read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shelby Thompson

    At 22, Kait Leddy disappeared. She was a sister, a daughter, an aspiring model, an adored party-girl, and a schizophrenic. It's easy to judge "mental-health" memoirs. Those of us who have had our lives upturned again and again have our own lists, preferences, and histories of "do's and don't" that we cling to like our personal gospels, afraid that someone with a different experience and their fancy book with well thought-out words will tell us that we did everything wrong. That the medications, At 22, Kait Leddy disappeared. She was a sister, a daughter, an aspiring model, an adored party-girl, and a schizophrenic. It's easy to judge "mental-health" memoirs. Those of us who have had our lives upturned again and again have our own lists, preferences, and histories of "do's and don't" that we cling to like our personal gospels, afraid that someone with a different experience and their fancy book with well thought-out words will tell us that we did everything wrong. That the medications, interventions, hospital facilities, and rehab centers our families ran to were the wrong ones. That we missed the very specific footnote in the margins that could have solved the crises. Leddy's life and grief are very different from my own experience. But by the end of this book, it's clear that that doesn't matter. Every family that is invaded by mental illness to this extent is just trying to plug their fingers into the holes ripping through their seawall, trying to keep their loved ones from drowning. The heavy reliance on metaphors and the switching between first and second-person narration didn't always work for me, and I closed the book feeling like I was still missing something. But Leddy's abiding love and dedication to the memory of Kait, as well as the beautiful relationship between her and her mother, help this story bloom in its own way.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea | Bookmarkingchels

    The Perfect Other was a beautifully written account of a sisterhood and adolescence thrown into despair because of one sister’s mental illness. Kyleigh Leddy has written the most beautiful memoir of her sister, Kaitlyn, and her schizophrenia diagnosis. Using colors to describe the stages of her life with her sister, she takes us through her childhood and it’s descent into darkness leading up to her sister’s disappearance and ultimate suicide. While I expected to hear more about Kaitlyns diagnosi The Perfect Other was a beautifully written account of a sisterhood and adolescence thrown into despair because of one sister’s mental illness. Kyleigh Leddy has written the most beautiful memoir of her sister, Kaitlyn, and her schizophrenia diagnosis. Using colors to describe the stages of her life with her sister, she takes us through her childhood and it’s descent into darkness leading up to her sister’s disappearance and ultimate suicide. While I expected to hear more about Kaitlyns diagnosis, I enjoyed the route that Leddy took. She describes instead her relationship with her sister- how it dissolved and then how she repaired it within herself. She also discusses how she and her mother become close because of the consistent stress and trauma they were experiencing together. The way they felt they couldn’t talk about Kaitlyn’s problems until it was far too late. In the end, I learned so much more about Kaitlyn as a person and schizophrenia as a disease outside of her, which I appreciated so much. As an older sister with a similar age gap, close to Kaitlyn’s age, this book really hit close to home for me. Leddy truly humanized Kaitlyn while also exploring her grief and the disease that took her sister from her.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    In The Perfect Other, Kyleigh Leddy chronicles her relationship with her sister Kait and Kait's deterioration into serious mental illness. They were very close as children- Kait wanted a little sister and when Kyleigh arrived, they were inseparable. She charts Kait's decline with a family move to Philadelphia and her entrance into adolescence. This is a common age for mental illnesses, especially psychotic disorders to begin to emerge. The prodromal period of schizophrenia is one not often descr In The Perfect Other, Kyleigh Leddy chronicles her relationship with her sister Kait and Kait's deterioration into serious mental illness. They were very close as children- Kait wanted a little sister and when Kyleigh arrived, they were inseparable. She charts Kait's decline with a family move to Philadelphia and her entrance into adolescence. This is a common age for mental illnesses, especially psychotic disorders to begin to emerge. The prodromal period of schizophrenia is one not often described nor well understood. Leddy offers up some ideas as to what she believes may have contributed to her sister's illness including multiple brain injuries she sustained, but it appears to me that she was already exhibiting early symptoms prior to those accidents. As Kait's illness worsens, Kyleigh and their mother are left to deal with the wreckage Kait leaves behind, leading to Kait disappearing- a body is never found, though she is presumed dead. This memoir is a fascinating tale told from the side of a family member. At times she goes into more research and theories about her sister's illness, but I found her recollections of their life together the most rewarding portions of the book. This is also a good portrayal of how serious mental health issues affect not only the sufferer of those symptoms. Thank you to Mariner Books via NetGalley for the advance reader copy in exchange for honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pj

    Honestly, this story sounds like most second-person accounts of “mental illness”: Supposedly “beloved” young or middle-aged person is eventually labeled by their family as a major “problem”, despite their ability to maintain good relationships in work or school settings; Key family members (parents, breadwinners, etc.) deny all responsibility for making sure the home environment is safe for EVERYONE and use psychiatry to contain their “problem” family member, conveniently ignoring that EVERY psy Honestly, this story sounds like most second-person accounts of “mental illness”: Supposedly “beloved” young or middle-aged person is eventually labeled by their family as a major “problem”, despite their ability to maintain good relationships in work or school settings; Key family members (parents, breadwinners, etc.) deny all responsibility for making sure the home environment is safe for EVERYONE and use psychiatry to contain their “problem” family member, conveniently ignoring that EVERY psychiatric diagnosis cites interpersonal stress as a pathogen; Family breaks the “deal” it sets with its scapegoat (Get “help” and we’ll start treating you like a human being again.) and life gets worse for everyone; Scapegoat dies early - in this case, VERY early - and family rewrites history. Seriously, I hope Kait is actually alive somewhere FAR from her family, living under a new identity and quietly building the loving, stable, and authentic life she was never allowed to have with her family.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mechelle

    Rating: 3.5/5 "In 2018, 19.1 percent of the United States reported a mental illness (this is 47.6 million people, or one in five adults. Of these cases, schizophrenia is purported to affect 1.5 million U.S. citizens." Kyleigh Leddy bravely commemorates the life of her older sister, Kait, and shares her story to emphasize misconceptions around mental illness in today's society and the lack of research/diagnosis leading to a devastating effect on her family dynamic. Armed with statistics and studies Rating: 3.5/5 "In 2018, 19.1 percent of the United States reported a mental illness (this is 47.6 million people, or one in five adults. Of these cases, schizophrenia is purported to affect 1.5 million U.S. citizens." Kyleigh Leddy bravely commemorates the life of her older sister, Kait, and shares her story to emphasize misconceptions around mental illness in today's society and the lack of research/diagnosis leading to a devastating effect on her family dynamic. Armed with statistics and studies, Leddy does the work to educate the reader on her findings related to mental illness, and more specifically, schizophrenia - information she did not have the luxury of having in one place when her sister and family were struggling. Leddy is also upfront about how Kait's comfortable white upbringing allowed access to resources others may not be so fortunate to obtain. The What-Ifs in this book highlight the need for additional research and education around schizophrenia to better support those suffering from it. Not only does this book focus on Kait's experience but also how schizophrenia plays a role in society for people of color and/or experiencing homelessness. Sadly, Kyleigh and her mom's regret also fills the pages with What-If ways they could've saved Kait. My only complaint was this book started to become repetitive and therefore, too long. The narrative itself was compelling; however, while I understand the importance of supporting details, the story started to become buried under the amount of facts and figures that quite frankly went over my head at times. Overall this book is a beautiful story about a sisterhood that was loved and lost to a misunderstood mental disorder, and how Kait's memory carries on in Kyleigh's endeavors to educate and help those who may too be experiencing or will experience this mental illness. Thank you to NetGalley, Mariner Books, and Kyleigh Leddy for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shoshanah

    This was an interesting one for me. The Perfect Other is Kyleigh Leddy’s memoir of her older sister. It follows Kyleigh’s early life with how much she looked up to her sister, 5 years older than her. But then how much things changed after her sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Finally how she and her family dealt with grief after her sister’s untimely death. A lot of it reminded me of the memoir I read from the mother of Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the Columbine shooters. So much of it This was an interesting one for me. The Perfect Other is Kyleigh Leddy’s memoir of her older sister. It follows Kyleigh’s early life with how much she looked up to her sister, 5 years older than her. But then how much things changed after her sister was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Finally how she and her family dealt with grief after her sister’s untimely death. A lot of it reminded me of the memoir I read from the mother of Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the Columbine shooters. So much of it looks back at the past looking for signs missed and the things that could have been different, somehow avoiding this tragic fate. It feels like these books must be therapeutic, getting to explore and examine all these feelings and hopefully help others in a similar situation. There is also a lot about death that resonated with me. No I haven’t lost a sibling, but I did loose my mother far too earlier and so much of the writing of grief felt true to me. It’s somewhat hard to review memoirs because they are such a personal story, but I really appreciated this one. It isn’t always easy to read, but one that definitely leaves an impression. 4.5/5 Disclosure: I was provided this book through a @goodreads First Reads Giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    erin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Exceptionally well written book by a young woman mature beyond her years. She uses analogies, themes and recurrent memories to build empathy to her family’s difficult situation. They loved Kait but feared Kait and Kait’s future. Who wouldn’t ? She was dazzling but so ill. Kyleigh conveyed how our sorrow and well wishing ( which is all we can offer) is so utterly useless to those who have an unresolved loss. It broke my heart to read of her experience with the neighbor of a friend who had the sam Exceptionally well written book by a young woman mature beyond her years. She uses analogies, themes and recurrent memories to build empathy to her family’s difficult situation. They loved Kait but feared Kait and Kait’s future. Who wouldn’t ? She was dazzling but so ill. Kyleigh conveyed how our sorrow and well wishing ( which is all we can offer) is so utterly useless to those who have an unresolved loss. It broke my heart to read of her experience with the neighbor of a friend who had the same name as her sister. I hoped along with her that it could be true. Could it be that Kait had set up a new life and was indeed alive? It enraged me that Kyleigh’s AP teacher gave her a failing grade in the immediate days post Kait being MIA. It warmed my heart to read of the teacher who stopped to listen to her in the same period and support her from years after. I feel for this author, her sister and parents. Isn’t that what a book should extract from a reader? I look forward to Kyleigh’s next book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    “Mental illness is tricky to wrangle, near impossible to nail down.” It would be easy to imagine this as just a sad book. A memoir about a sister struggling with mental illness who likely ended her own life sounds like a sad story, and there were definitely heartbreaking parts, but this was also a story filled with love, even at times when it was hard to give. I appreciated how Leddy was vulnerable but also incredibly insightful. She was the younger sister to someone who struggled with her mental “Mental illness is tricky to wrangle, near impossible to nail down.” It would be easy to imagine this as just a sad book. A memoir about a sister struggling with mental illness who likely ended her own life sounds like a sad story, and there were definitely heartbreaking parts, but this was also a story filled with love, even at times when it was hard to give. I appreciated how Leddy was vulnerable but also incredibly insightful. She was the younger sister to someone who struggled with her mental health, sometimes in scary ways, possibly because of a traumatic brain injury. This book was quite an emotional read but it was also fascinating. I’ve learned so much about mental illness and diagnoses in the last decade and a half and this book reminded me so much of Brain on Fire, showing how mental illness can present from unlikely causes and how little we (society as a whole but even the fields of psychiatry and psychology) know about it’s origin and how to help those struggling. It is a mental health/memoir must read.

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