The Helios Disaster is a story of mental illness. It begins with a young girl being taken from her father and placed in foster care. Her father is diagnosed with schizophrenia, but this is all fractured in the telling. The girl sees herself as Athena, born from her father’s head, from his pain. She tries to reconnect with her father through surreptitious letters. She is with a foster family who cares for her but does not understand her in the slightest. This is all strange and we don’t ever get the answers to her “speaking in tongues” but actually in Greek. So is she Athena?
The second half finds her now in a mental institution where they treat her with pills and taking her for walks, getting her to do the activities of life that reinforce good health, getting dressed, taking a shower, and so on. Reading this felt very much like trying to understand mental illness. There is a logic to it, but it’s not clear.
I enjoyed The Helios Disaster but I didn’t understand it. My questions were not answered. It was short and read in one sitting. The narrative was compelling and I raced through it, though I felt confused nearly every minute of it. I think that was the point, but it was frustrating as a read.
I received an e-galley of The Helios Disaster from the publisher through Edelweiss.