When Molly McCloskey was a young girl, her brother Mike - fourteen years her senior - started showing signs of paranoid schizophrenia. By the time Molly was old enough to begin to know him, he was frequently delusional, heavily medicated, living in hospitals or care homes or on the road.
When Molly reached the age Mike was when he became ill, she found herself suffering from deep anxiety and drinking heavily. She knew that schizophrenia runs in families, and at times the anxiety was so bad as to make her wonder about her own sanity. As the years passed, years when Molly - having moved from the US to Ireland - hardly ever saw or heard from her brother, she became deeply curious about his life and about what might have been. Through reading an astonishing archive of letters preserved by her mother and grandmother, and interviewing old friends of Mike's, she began to piece together a picture of his life, before and after the illness struck - the story of how a gifted and well-liked student and athlete was overtaken by a terrible illness that rendered him unrecognizable.
Now, in Circles around the Sun, she tells that story - which is also the story of her own demons and of how a seemingly perfect family slowly fell apart and, in the end, regrouped. It is a work of extraordinary intensity and drama from a wonderfully gifted writer.