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Seeking Asylum

Growing up Sherry Logsdon was not much of a reader, certainly not a writer. But when she turned to writing as an outlet during her teen years, she discovered a passion that now finds the retired teacher as a soon to be published author.

The GCHS graduate also recently found herself back in the classroom speaking with Alison Hackley’s sophomore English class about her novel, Asylum. The book combines a love of writing and research with the suspenseful, sometimes scary movies she so relished over the years.

Logsdon tied together the book’s themes of women’s rights and suffrage, along with the deplorable and often inhumane conditions of 1800s asylums or alms houses as they were often called. She talked about the vast amount of time she spent researching for the book by visiting many historical and (in)famous asylums. “I love research, but it can only take you so far,” she said. “To get to the truth you must go deeper, beyond the library or internet,” emphasizing how she needed to be in the asylums to actually feel their effects.   

The class had been reading the play, The Miracle Worker, about Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. As Helen's parents try desperately to avoid sending her to an asylum, they find Annie to work with their daughter. Sullivan, who spent her childhood in an asylum, discovers that teaching Helen brings those memories flooding back.

In the play Annie recalls playing with rats in the asylum. According to Hackley, “The kids will typically kind of snicker at that idea, but now, having heard about the conditions in those places, they can really understand what people like Annie suffered, and what a great survival story it is that she went on to make such a difference in the life of Helen, who went on to make a difference in the world.”  As Logsdon put it, “When you have a passion, whatever you do in life you’ll succeed.”

As questions flew from around the room, it was clear that students enjoyed their time with the local author, as they talked about visiting historic asylums in Kentucky themselves and reading her book.

Asylum is available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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