‘Well … I Guess I’m Not Jesus’
a bipolar’s vivid confessional
Before he went off to college, Akron native Adam Helbling would have been any parent’s dream of an ideal son. With a 4.0 average at Stow-Munroe Falls High School, and state and national waterskiing championships, Helbling won a scholarship to Ohio State University, where he quickly became involved in honor programs and was captain of the university’s national champion waterski team. The sport had nothing to do with how he became a quadriplegic.
In his confessional book Well … I Guess I’m Not Jesus, Helbling describes his life with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and how it led to massive drug use, and eventually to nearly killing himself in a high-speed car chase.
After winning a state championship, Helbling, in a manic episode, went on frenetic spending sprees and hosted endless parties, totally destroying his apartment. When he realized he had spent all his money on drugs, Helbling opened up accounts with every credit card offer that arrived, later realizing that in two months he had spent more than $15,000 and applied for almost 40 loans.
While in the process of coming clean to his family, Helbling had a psychotic breakdown, announcing that he was Jesus. His parents called for assistance. After hospitalization, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
For two years, the medications worked, and then in 2011, Helbling again realized he was Jesus. He got in his car, drove west into Indiana and, at 120 miles an hour, flipped five times end over end. The story of his physical rehabilitation and subsequent completion of his degree in civil engineering are inspiring, and his vivid descriptions of the manic phase of bipolar disorder will enlighten those not familiar with the illness.
Well … I Guess I’m Not Jesus (194 pages, softcover) costs $17 from online retailers. Adam Helbling gives motivational speeches and blogs about his experiences.
Tean narrator endearing, quirky
Josie Sheridan, the teen narrator of the terrifically funny Love and Other Foreign Words by New Albany author Erin McCahan, is as quirky, awkward and endearing as they come, and sometimes just as aggravating.
Josie is academically advanced, so she goes to high school part time while also attending college classes. That doesn’t help her out in the romance department, and it doesn’t help when her older sister Kate brings home a boyfriend, Geoff, and announces their engagement. Geoff is condescending to Josie, and she immediately determines to stop the wedding.
Friends counsel Josie to give Geoff a chance, but she’s positive he’s the wrong guy for Kate — just as Josie finds herself deep in a crush with her own wrong guy. The sisters’ close relationship deteriorates as Kate tries to remake rebellious Josie into the perfect bridesmaid, with pushup bra and contact lenses.
Love and Other Foreign Words (331 pages, softcover) costs $16.99 from Dial, a division of Penguin. It is recommended for readers 12 and older.
Barnes & Noble (198 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake) — Charles Ramsey recalls his part in the rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, and signs his book (with Randy Nyerges) Dead Giveaway, 1 to 3 p.m. today; New York writer and illustrator Bill Cotter reads from and signs his storybook Don’t Push the Button!, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Cuyahoga County Public Library (South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch, 4645 Mayfield Road) — The Local Author Book Club meets at 2 p.m. today to discuss The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt by David Giffels; at 3 p.m., Giffels joins the group to continue the discussion and answer questions.
Barberton Public Library (602 W. Park Ave.) — Dale Pierce, author of the pictorial history Wrestling in Akron, gives a presentation and signs his book, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Coventry Library (1925 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us, talks about agricultural practices, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Novelist Gabrielle Zevin signs The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, about the isolated owner of a failing bookstore who finds an unexpected second chance at happiness, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday; Bill Cotter reads from Don’t Push the Button!, recommended for children 4-8, 10 a.m. Saturday; Kristin Ohlson signs The Soil Will Save Us, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Visible Voice (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Baldwin-Wallace College adjunct professor Kevin P. Keating signs his debut novel The Natural Order of Things, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday during the Tremont ArtWalk.
Chuck’s Fine Wines (23 Bell St., Chagrin Falls) — Scott Lax, author of Vengeance Follows, which includes a wine motif, hosts a wine tasting and talks about the wines mentioned in the book, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday. The $30 cost includes a copy of the book. Call for reservations at 440-247-7534.
Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center (546 Jack Gibbs Blvd., Columbus) — The eighth Ohioana Book Festival brings about 100 authors for signings, panels, children’s activities and more. Featured authors include Harmony Evans, Cleveland Heights writer of African-American romance; P.L. Gaus, Wooster writer of Amish mysteries; former Beacon Journal columnist David Giffels; and Lakewood children’s author Lindsay Ward. See the list at http://ohioana.org. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
John S. Knight Center (77 E. Mill St., Akron) — Matthew Chojnacki, author of Alternative Movie Posters: Film Art from the Underground, appears at the Oddmall exhibition, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Barnes & Noble (7900 Mentor Avenue, Mentor) — Charles Ramsey signs Dead Giveaway, 7 p.m. Friday; Cleveland author Brian McClellan launches The Crimson Campaign, second book in the “Powder Mage” trilogy that began with Promise of Blood, 1 p.m. Saturday.
— Barbara McIntyre
Special to the Beacon Journal
Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or email@example.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.