It would be impossible not to be absorbed by the stirring words that Charita Cole Brown so gracefully brings to the pages of Defying The Verdict and the story of her battle with bipolar disorder following a psychotic episode in college. And it's fascinating, albeit horrifying, as one is exposed to what these battles look like and the efforts people such as Brown undertake to build a life, and have it slip away, only to rebuild it again, while knowing they are at risk for the cycle to repeat itself. That Brown captures this as vividly as she does only serves to illustrate how important it is for one to draw such a picture when the greater public possesses so little understanding of what mental illness can look like. We had never thought about mental illness in this way. How it tears away at the foundation of one's life in the same way people describe a raging river tearing away their homes, only to rebuild them, all the while wondering when nature will once again rear its head, forcing them to begin the process again as well. This is what life is made of though, defying the destiny someone or something has decided will be yours, and this is what Brown has done with her life in defying the verdict, not the diagnosis, finding career, love, family and now this, a debut memoir that demands to be read. We would add, that Brown further introduces an element to the book that demands our attention as well, and that is the way race, class and gender and mental health, and in Brown's case, religion, become intertwined in seeking to not only understand one's diagnosis, but how one is diagnosed, approaches to one's treatment and the acceptance of any of it. It's not understating it to say that most of us greatly misunderstand mental illness and the challenges that accompany managing it. Defying The Verdict is a good step in that direction. It is also a powerful statement about how Brown went about living her life and claiming the narrative of her choice, not the one nature, and certainly her doctors, were ready to write for her. That she changed her life is on full display on the pages of Defying The Verdict. That you might find your life changed too, only requires you to read them yourself.