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Book Selections and Health Resources: Mental Health

NNLM Reading Club Book Kit

Do you want to share this book with your reading club? The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) has made it easy to download the discussion questions, promotional materials, and supporting health information from this page.

However, if you are short on time or resources, apply for the free "program-in-a-box" NNLM Reading Club Book Kit which includes books as well as discussion questions and health topic materials.


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Discussion Guide for Gorilla and The Bird


Gorilla and the Bird orange book cover with white letteringZack McDermott, a 26-year-old Brooklyn public defender, woke up one morning convinced he was being filmed, Truman Show-style, as part of an audition for a TV pilot. Every passerby was an actor; every car would magically stop for him; everything he saw was a cue from "The Producer" to help inspire the performance of a lifetime. After a manic spree around Manhattan, Zack, who is bipolar, was arrested on a subway platform and admitted to Bellevue Hospital.  So begins the story of Zack's free-fall into psychosis and his desperate, poignant, often hilarious struggle to claw his way back to sanity. It's a journey that will take him from New York City back to his Kansas roots and to the one person who might be able to save him, his tough, big-hearted Midwestern mother, nicknamed the Bird, whose fierce and steadfast love is the light in Zack's dark world.

Soon to be a HBO limited series

Gorilla and The Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother's Love | Zack McDermott | Little, Brown and Company | 2017 | 288 pages | ISBN: 978-0316315142


'Mental,' 'Gorilla And The Bird': Two Starkly Different Accounts of Bipolar Disorder. NPR Book Reviews. October 3, 2017 Reading icon vector


Zack McDermott has worked as a public defender for The Legal Aid Society of New York. His work has appeared in the New York Times, This American Life, Morning Edition, and Gawker, among other places. He lives in New York and LA.

"This is a true story, and I have done my best to ensure accuracy in its telling. As my memory is sometimes fallible, dialogue is approximate. In cases where the events described took place when I was too young to understand what was happening around me, I have relied on my mother, the Bird, to fill in the gaps. The names and identifying details of some individuals have been changed."

Zack McDermott on His Memoir and His Mom by Stephanie Stephens,, October 9, 2018. Reading vector icon