On July 24, 2014, while experiencing schizophrenic psychosis, 23-year-old Tim Granata murdered his beloved mother. Although Tim’s mental health had been declining for several years, the family’s worry was that Tim would take his own life, not harm others.
Soon afterward, an acquaintance wrote to Tim’s brother, Vince: “I hope you will eventually be able to find some peace and feel whole again, though that might be your life’s work.” Despite the enormity of the task, Vince Granata bravely and lovingly chronicles his family’s story—before, during and after the tragedy—in his riveting memoir, Everything Is Fine.
Tim’s illness “began as a whisper” late in high school and during his first year of college, but it slowly took over his life. Repeated hospitalizations and therapy didn’t help, and he refused medication. Because of his background as a champion wrestler in high school, Tim lifted weights to try and calm the cacophony of his increasingly psychotic thoughts.
Granata shut down after his mother’s murder, unable to think of her without remembering her horrific death. Plagued by nightmares, he avoided sleep and turned to caffeine and alcohol. Still, he was wracked by magical thinking, wondering if he might have been able to save his mother had he been present instead of 1,000 miles away tutoring children in the Dominican Republic.
Granata writes with compassion, reflection and unsparing honesty of not only his brother’s metamorphosis but also his own transformation after the crime—how he was finally able to find his way back to his life, memories and love of his brother. Some of the book’s most memorable scenes take place during his visits with Tim in Connecticut’s Whiting Forensic Hospital, where Tim was sent to be “restored to competency” so that he could eventually be tried for his crime.
Anyone trying to better understand the cruel grip of psychosis will learn much from Everything Is Fine. As Granata concludes, “We can only conquer terror when we drag what scares us into the light. We only understand horror when we think about what we know, when we look at all the pieces.”