In Four Rooms, Upstairs, Linda Appleman Shapiro offers a compelling family history, addressing issues of love, loss and loyalty as she takes the reader back to her childhood in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn during the 1940s and 50s, and to her life with a mother suffering from mental illness. Sharing memories from years before modern day advancements were achieved in medicine and psychiatry, we see her family struggle to survive in an age when the words "mental illness" were rarely uttered and dysfunctional families did not appear on prime time television. It was a time when her family''s "secret" hovered over each of its members, when loved ones, as well as the patients themselves, were tortured by the ordeal of the disease, left anxious by the experience, and hungry for explanations. Exploring the process in which she learned to accept her own dark side while honoring her strengths, Shapiro speaks to all who have grown up threatened and haunted by unexplained terror. Her story, however, is not only about the ravages of mental illness; it specifically addresses the need to re-define and re-invent ourselves in order to rise above trauma. With the insight of a seasoned psychotherapist and as a witness to the human capacity for pain and survival, she helps us understand the healing power of forgiving without forgetting. Shapiro reminds us, as well, of the necessity to interrupt family dysfunction by merging life''s sweetness with its sorrow, reconciling its meaning with its mystery.