Book Reviews

Review: My Wonderful Fran by Paul Spelzini


I was kindly sent a free copy of this book by the publisher Austin Macauley for a review.  This is a biography of Francesca, who committed suicide after suffering from mental illness, here is my review.

Francesca Spelzini was eighteen years old when she took her own life after a battle with mental illness. This book is a biography of her life and shows some of the difficulties that face the family of a loved one with mental health problems.

‘My Wonderful Fran’ is a short book at just over one hundred pages long. It’s an easy read and charts the life of Fran by her father Paul. The book starts with Fran’s early years from baby and goes through various family holidays and experiences which gives you an idea of how happy she was and what a lovely family she has. As the book progresses you learn about her diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome though there’s no explanation of what the condition is or how it affects someone which I found a shame as I don’t have personal experience with Asperger’s and had to look it up.

The stories around Fran’s growing up are lovely memories for those involved and chart how talented she was particularly in sports, however for me the book gets far more interesting when there’s more mention of her strange behaviour surrounding her mental health. To see someone’s mental illness through the eyes of a family member is both shocking and a little heart breaking. There are many moments where you can see the dark side of her mental illness all told from a distance where, despite wanting to help, there’s nothing that could be done.

The book has a sad but also uplifting conclusion. It’s not an easy book to read due what ultimately happens to Fran, in fact the whole ordeal of what happens is harrowing for all those involved. The book was written to not only honour Fran but to also form part of a legacy. The ending is uplifting because you see just how far her legacy has gone in touching the lives of many people today.

The book has nothing offensive in it, however I couldn’t connect to it as much as I would have liked. I would have liked more information on the conditions Fran had and how they affected her earlier years, either within the book or at the back. There was also a little repetition in some chapters, and I found myself confused over what Fran’s brothers were called as the names seemed to change a few times in the book. It wasn’t a book for me personally. As the sufferer of depression I never gave much thought to how mental illness can appear to family and friends but I can see those families or friends of those with Asperger’s Syndrome and Schizophrenia possibly finding this book an interesting one and they can relate to.

Rating: 3/5

Review published on Goodreads, click here

Book Description:

My Wonderful Fran is the poignant and heartfelt autobiography of Paul Spelzini whose daughter Francesca tragically committed suicide following a battle with mental illness.
Francesca was a lively, bubbly, friendly girl who enjoyed making other people happy. She loved sport and loved her family.
The book documents the life of Francesca and tells of holidays and time spent with her family over the years. It is both sad as well as being a positive and uplifting novel


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