New book by Hants Border's Charlene Reid raises awareness of mental illness

Ashley Thompson
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Charlene Reid displays a copy of her first published book, A Paper Bag For Anna. - Ashley Thompson photo

The idea for Charlene Reid’s first book came in the form of an epiphany.

A Paper Bag For Anna, self-published through Xulon Press in California, follows 55-year-old Anna Mercer as she mourns the loss of her husband of 37 years and, at the same time, learns to cope with dissociative identity disorder.

“She has it, but she doesn’t know that she has it, and her husband, while he was alive, protected her,” said Reid. “As he realized he was dying from cancer, he started to put things in place that would help her after he was gone.”

Reid started the book in 2007 after sitting in church one day, listening to her pastor speak about the importance of motivating others, and feeling compelled to do something that would inspire.

Writing about dissociative identity disorder seemed natural for the 50-year-old Hants Border resident, who is living with the mental illness.

“I didn’t know how the story would go. I knew it would kind of touch on circumstances in my own life that are troubling without it being too much for the reader,” said Reid.

From there, it seemed the characters actually came to life as the plot unfolded.

“They take over and they tell the story,” she said.

Reid, a card merchandiser and Acadia Divinity student completing a Bachelor of Theology, decided to have the book published in January.

“This book has a purpose, I believe.”

She hopes the story will demonstrate the healing powers of faith, friends and family in tough times.

“I think the book is timely in that there is much more awareness about mental illness,” said Reid. reviewer Betty Johnson offered high praise for Reid’s 91-page turner.

“The story moves along quickly with each chapter's end leaving you anxiously waiting for the next truth or turn of events. Reid has accomplished a masterpiece which is certain to become a classic in the mental health field,” wrote Johnson.

Reid is donating $2 from the sale of every copy of A Paper Bag For Anna to a counselling program in Nova Scotia. The book can be purchased by calling Reid at (902) 352-2152, e-mailing or visiting

Paperback editions sell for $20, and the story is also available in an e-book format.


Organizations: Xulon Press,

Geographic location: California, Nova Scotia

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