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Ann Kathleen Otto


Depression and Loss

"Purl saw a light in the parlor and entered. Anna was sitting on the sofa, motionless. Only a flicker from the oil lamp lighted the room. I can't go to the reunion today," she said. He looked down at her and placed his hands in his pockets, helpless that she should be so sad. So little had changed since May."

Whenever I stop to reflect on Anna Hartle's early life in Yours in a Hurry I am saddened by all of her losses and disappointments. A psychologist mentor of mine from the medical school I used to work for is very adept in many subjects, and he's often asked about grief and depression. I asked for his thoughts about Anna's many painful experiences.

A Reader's First Look

I was asked to comment on Ann Otto's historical novel, Yours in a Hurry. This story, or more accurately, these stories, take the reader in many directions…following the many adventures of three of the siblings of a family of eight, orphaned when their prosperous parents die suddenly. Three of the eight move to California after they come of age and live exciting, while very different lives. Addison, the author’s great-uncle, becomes an aviation pioneer; Purl, her grandfather, loses his inheritance and joins the military; but it is Anna’s life that is of most interest to me.

Loss Changes Us                      

As a psychologist, I recognize how melancholy haunted Anna throughout her life…and with just reason. Sadness, melancholy, and depression have as their roots, LOSS. And if the reader follows Anna’s life, she certainly experienced more than her share of loss: the most obvious of these are (p. 237) right after she witnesses Addison's death, and the chapter where she and Purl go back to Ohio for the family reunion starting (p. 255). Her losses/important life changes include: her parents death in 1901; her move to Los Angeles from a small village in 1908; her marriage in 1909 to a man who manipulates her; the loss of their child through adoption (1910); witnessing Addison's death (1911); and, the death of a younger sister and one of the aunts who raised them (1912).

Ann Otto explores these losses and how they impact her great aunt. We often try to hide the blemishes of family members who are long gone, but Ann realizes how important these issues are to her family's story.

Meet the Blog Contributor           

Dr. Glenn Saltzman is a retired professor and popular professional speaker. Please go to his website postings at which are both educational and entertaining.

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