Kicking and Screaming

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A book review of Kicking and Screaming: A Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts by Melanie D. Gibson

A book review of Kicking and Screaming: A Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts by Melanie D. Gibson

Stars: *****

She Writes Press (2021)
280 pages

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Summary: Melanie Gibson was an independent woman with a good job, multiple college degrees, and a condo in the trendy part of town. She also had a few mental illnesses, a minor substance abuse problem, and rotten relationship skills. She was a high-functioning crazy who needed a good kick in the pants, literally and metaphorically.

In early 2013, as a last desperate means to save her sanity, Melanie turned to a nearly forgotten childhood activity: the Korean martial art of taekwondo. As if the universe were listening, she discovered her West Texas childhood taekwondo instructors’ Grandmaster operated a taekwondo school a few miles from her home in Fort Worth, Texas―and she decided to start her training over as a white belt.

In taekwondo, Melanie felt like she had a fresh start in more ways than one. She found an inner peace she’d never known before, a sense of community, a newfound confidence, and a positive outlook on life. The kicking and screaming she was doing in class quieted the long-term kicking and screaming in her mind. Funny and frank, Kicking and Screaming: A Memoir of Madness and Marital Arts is the story of Melanie’s life-changing journey from troubled, lost soul to confident taekwondo black belt.

Kicking and Screaming

This is a memoir about mental illness and martial arts. I really enjoyed this memoir. I’ve read a lot of memoirs about people who have Bipolar, as does this author (amongst other things.) Most of them are stories about full blown Bipolar 1 which includes psychotic breaks and hospitalizations. For those who have never experienced this, those stories can be the most “interesting” to the reader. However I (and others) suffer from Bipolar 2 which can be just as debilitating. This doesn’t include psychotic breaks and full blown mania. You don’t read too many memoirs about this type of Bipolar. Although the author doesn’t specify which Bipolar she has, from the book it seems more like Bipolar 2. Either way, it’s the story of mental illness, substance abuse and poor relationships.

It’s important to note that the author uses the word crazy to describer herself in a joking way. She explains in the book that she knows some people might take offense to that. However she explains that she likes to use that word. I do the same thing. I wouldn’t want someone else to call me crazy but I feel like I can call myself crazy if I want.

It’s not just the mental illness part I enjoyed. I couldn’t identify with the martial arts part as I’ve never done it. However I really enjoyed reading about it. The book reminded me of another one I read long ago called Without Apology which is about boxing. Boxing and Martial Arts are not the same but I enjoyed that one too.

I recommend this book to anyone really, but especially to those with interest in mental illness and/or martial arts.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.