Thursday, December 24, 2015

January 2016 - The Quiet Room, by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett

Meeting Details:  Lindsey's house (28 Berko Ave)
Date:  Thursday, January 7, 2016
Time: 7:30 p.m. (discussion starting at 8 p.m.)

1. Given that Lori was the oldest of three children, did birth order affect the way her siblings and her parents approached Lori's illness?  What do you think the response would have been had Lori been the youngest or the middle child?

2. Social acceptance was quite important in Lori's community and also to her family.  How is Lori's illness perceived within her parent's circle of influence?  How does her illness affect Lori's own peers?

3. How do Lori's parents react and behave during Lori's illness?  Did their behavior and actions help or hinder Lori's treatments and therapy process?

4. This book has an unusual structure in that it has multiple narrators.  Did you like the way the book was structured?  Did it give you more insight into Lori's illness?  Why or why not?

5. There are many people living with mental disorders that go undiagnosed or untreated due to lack of support financially or otherwise such as Lori's own grandmother and great aunt who were excused as being "crazy" or "eccentric."  If her family's social ranking were anything less, do you think Lori could have received adequate support and been able to finally take her illness under control? 

5. What are the "Voices" that Lori continuously refers to?  How do you understand them? What influence do they have on Lori?  How does Lori's relationship to her "Voices" change over the course of her book?

6. There were many times where the voices gave her reasons to take her own life yet she finds strength to stay and fight the illness and reclaim her life.   Were her attempts at suicide cries for attention, help, or a true need to extinguish the madness within her?  Who or what stopped her from taking her own life? 

7. Why does Lori turn to cocaine?  What did the drugs offer her?

8. What is the "quiet room"? Although it is meant to be, as Lori says, a "safe and tranquil place," why does it terrify her?  Do you think The Quiet Room is an apt title for the book?

9. Toward the middle of the book, Nancy Schiller, Lori's mom, has a revelation.  She says: "With all my might I had been trying to keep from seeing what was right in front of my face.  I had looked at Lori and seen my worst fears.  I had seen a childhood full of embarrassment and humiliation." What is Nancy referring to?  Why did Lori remind Nancy of her childhood?

10. The drug Clozapine seemed to be the key factor in Lori's recovery.  Besides the drug, what other factors contributed to Lori's road back to sanity?

11. In the book's afterword, Lori talks about her life after The Quiet Room and her job as a peer specialist at a mental health center.  She says: "I like being me in my job." What do you think Lori means by this?

12. Aslo in the afterword we learn that Lori is now married to a man named Steve whom she calls "Mr. Wonderful."  In what way has marriage changed Lori's life?

13. After reading this book, do you have a better understanding of schizophrenia? Did it change your perception of the illness or give you new insight into those who suffer from mental disorders?

14.  Did you enjoy reading this book?  Would you recommend it to someone else?

Menu:  Lori struggles with her weight while she is ill.  Her relationship with food is difficult and it is often used to make her happy (Pg 93 "food was one of the few pleasures in my life, so they took me to eat anything I liked"), later when Lori is more stable she begins to enjoy preparing food for her friends (pg 262).  Her favorites still include M&M's and chocolate (pg 272).  Thinking of Lori, I would like our theme to include any dishes you would miss if you were homeless or hospitalized.


  1. I liked how Lori's mom brought her ice cream or flowers everyday when she came to visit (just to "bring some happiness" into the room) - so I think I'll bring ice cream. And, oh, would I ever miss good ice cream if I had to eat cafeteria/hospital food all the time!

  2. I will bring the M&Ms and some kind of dessert!


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