Nine Highland Road

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Winerip first covered the story of the home on Highland Road from 1987 to 1988, when the town of Glen Cove, Long Island, was fighting to prevent its establishment. Early chapters tell an agonizing story of false starts by health-care givers and constant obstruction by politicians. Winerip began his chronicle in earnest in 1991, when the home was in its third year and even next door neighbors had grown unaware of its presence. Largely in their own words, reflecting a stark anguish, Winerip show resident coping with their illnesses and the side effects of their “meds,” and dedicated live-in counselors not only coping with the residents but also with bureaucracies that control their existence.

The dramatic salvaging of Julie Callahan, a young woman who suffers from a rare multiple- personality disorder involving sixteen personae yet endures to leave the home and get a good job while never forgetting her fellow clients, coheres the book. Others are also profiled: Heather, whose suicidal impulses keep her in transit between the home and Glen Cove Hospital; Jasper, a Latino schizophrenic with an eating disorder, whose loveable essence is held hostage to disasters as large as he at nearly 400 pounds; Stan, also schizophrenic, who leaves the group home but fails on the outside. When Stan leaps from a window after hearing the voices of God and Christ fighting in his new apartment, doctors are able to repair his body but not his tortured mind.

Winerip’s narrative highlights stultifying conflicts between state and local agencies, devastating cutbacks in funding, and, perhaps above all, the slow recognition that savings, fiscal and human, are realized by the group idea whose efficacy this reporter passionately documents.