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Unlawful DISorder by David Jackson Ambrose

Bowie doesn’t intend to kill his mother—he just wants to collect his social security check from her. But when she throws around words like hallucinating and tells him he’s “hearing things,” his fear is triggered, and he takes action. This event, coupled with a history of reported psychotic episodes, a gambling addiction, his sexual preference for other men, and a shimmer that whispers vile things to him, sets Bowie on a collision course with mental health professionals, the police, and the prison system.


“A compulsively readable tale of Black gay love, buried family secrets, homophobia, madness and who gets to be called sane; a cutting portrayal of the failings of America’s mental health system.” —John R. Gordon, author of Drapetomania; Noah’s Arc

“The inner life of people with mental disabilities has never been portrayed with such startling nuance, compassion, and complexity. The disabling effects of our mental health system are explored, exposed, and exploded through two unforgettable characters in this powerful page-turner. David Jackson Ambrose once again proves himself to be a master storyteller of the stories America refuses to tell.”

Jennifer Natalya Fink, Author and Professor, Georgetown University

“There have been recently other books about being gay and poor and Black, but none is as uncompromising and honest as this one. I felt redeemed by having read it. You will too.”

Joan Mellen, author of Blood in the Water: How the U.S. and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty


“…it remains a breathless read, effectively capturing the messiness of mental health and the maddening bureaucracy of the system in place to treat mental illness. It also demonstrates how traumas and living conditions can exacerbate one another, keeping a person trapped in a cycle of ill health and poverty. Overall, it’s a story that truly fixes the reader in the chaos of another person’s mind. A startling and rewarding story of pain and alienation.”


“Educational and emotional, this novel had me on the brink of tears at times. The ending is bittersweet yet hopeful at the same time. I loved it!”

Rabia Tanveer, Reader’s Favorite