Reviews by Georgia

The Other Wife    

By: Michael Robotham

Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler    

Life has thrown some nasty curves at Joseph O’Loughlin. Thirteen years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. When medicated properly, he appears to be almost symptom-free and lives in hope that science will come up with a cure. His wife Julianne died 16 months ago from surgical complications; a blood clot travelled to her heart and lodged in the left ventricle. She lived for a week on life support. A year ago he and his daughters moved back to London. Charlie is 20 and in her second year at Oxford studying behavioral psychology. At 12, Emma started attending a new private school with astronomical tuition fees. Joe is struggling to keep his family intact and finally was driven to seek help for his depression. 

This is where the story begins. Set in November, it follows the next 22 days. Each chapter signifies how much time has passed since the last interactions between characters. 

On day one, Joe receives an urgent call from hospital staff that his father is in intensive care after a brutal attack at his home. Joe rushes to be at his mother’s side but discovers the woman sitting at his father’s bedside is not Mary O’Loughlin. She says she is William O’Loughlin’s other wife. This is where the story suggests it is not just another crime novel.

The woman, this other wife, is covered in William’s blood. She told medics at the scene she found her husband at the bottom of the stairs and held him while waiting for help to arrive. But how much, if any, of her story is true? Joe and his sisters believed their parents had a typical marriage. William O’Loughlin is a celebrated surgeon. Is it possible that this upstanding citizen was leading a double life? 

The O’Loughlin sisters are quick to assume the worst of the stranger who knows so much about their family. Lucy, Patricia, and Rebecca refuse to believe their father was anything but exemplary in his professional and personal life. But as a clinical psychologist, Joe keeps an open mind and listens to what Olivia Blackmore has to say about her 20-year relationship with his father. Oddly, Joe’s mother is suspiciously silent when conversation turns to Olivia. Questions arise of Mary’s knowledge of the infidelity.  

Over the next three weeks, other characters play significant roles in the story. Detective Kate Hawthorn takes a fancy to Joe and offers information, to the detriment of her job. Friend and retired cop Vincent Ruiz contributes much needed help and muscle to Joe’s investigations. And David Passage, childhood family friend who took over his father’s law firm, seems to have abundant knowledge and conflicts of interest concerning William O’Loughlin’s affairs. 

The Other Wife is the most recent book in a series by Michael Robotham. I was unaware of this but it did not affect my understanding of the storyline or enjoyment of the characters. I would like to now go back and read the earlier stories of Joseph O’Loughlin as he is an interesting character.  

The Other Wife can be found in the library with the fiction books, FIC ROB.

September 2019 

 

Is Fred in the Refrigerator?

By: Shala Nicely

Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler

Shala Nicely was in her 40s when she finally got her life back. For over four decades she was controlled by a monster. That monster was obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Shala was four years old when she and her mother were struck by a car while standing outside their church. Physically she made a full recovery, but the trauma took a toll on her psychologically. Unconsciously she came to believe the world was a dangerous place and certain rituals would keep her and those she loved safe. If she did not follow through, something terrible would happen. She felt responsible for the lives of so many that her own life turned into a nightmare. The number one rule which had to be obeyed was to keep it all a secret. No one could know what she was doing or her whole world would fall apart. 

It was almost two decades until Shala realized she was suffering from a mental illness and her monster had a name. Additional years passed until she found treatment and someone who understood OCD. There is still much that is unknown about the disorder and there are many schools of thought on the recovery process. Relief is not easily attained by those suffering from OCD since treatment is not always successful. The International OCD Foundation reports it can take between 14 to 17 years from the onset of symptoms to get the right treatment. It took Shala twice that long. She found success with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), but not everyone responds to it. 

Many people are somewhat aware of OCD and the repeated rituals that are classic symptoms of the disorder. What I found from reading this book is there is another whole set of inner workings that are hidden from the outside world by those suffering. The monster is constantly breeding doubt and insecurity into the mind of the victim. One of Shala’s fears was that her cat was in the refrigerator. She had to check to make sure he was not trapped inside. It is not rational to believe a cat would somehow be able to get in a refrigerator, but there is no rational thinking when dealing with OCD. It is also frequently accompanied by body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Is Fred in the Refrigerator? is a memoir to which many may be able to relate. The current estimate is that 2.3% of the adult population in the United States are affected by OCD. That is approximately 1 out of 40 men and women. About 1% of children have this condition. 

In 2010, at the age of 39, Shala defied her fears and decided to help others. After years of stumbling through the mental health system she chose to share her story with the hope others will learn from it. 

There is no definitive cure for OCD, but Shala is recovering. By learning to live with uncertainty and viewing anxiety as her friend, she is now able to be happy.  

Is Fred in the Refrigerator? can be found in the library with the nonfiction books: 616.852 NIC.

August 2019

 

 

Elevation

By: Stephen King

Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler

Scott Carey is 42 years old, six-foot-four with a bit of a belly. He feels great, is full of energy, and has a good appetite. Scott makes a visit to the home of his tennis friend, retired Doc Ellis, with an unusual request. He wants the good doctor to check his weight, trusting that the medical scale Bob kept from his office is still accurate. Bob Ellis is 74 years old and practiced medicine for 42 years. He thinks Scott looks healthy, albeit a bit overweight, but humors him and grants the request.

Scott keeps on his boots and dons his heavy parka before stepping on the scale. The bar balances at 212. After removing most of his clothing, which includes the fourteen pounds of coins in the coat pockets, he steps on the scale again. The bar stays at 212. Puzzled, Scott tells Bob this has been going on for a couple of weeks.

This is the opening scene of Stephen King’s novella Elevation. The story takes place in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine, the setting of many of King’s books.

Elevation has two stories that King intertwines in his masterful way. Scott Carey and his neighbors are in a bit of a feud. He suspects Missy Donaldson and Deidre McComb are allowing their dogs to do their business on his lawn, but neither woman seems to care. When Scott shows proof with a photograph, the situation only gets worse. He wants to be a good neighbor, but they at least need to meet him halfway.

Tension builds as Scott tries to support their business venture. The couple has a Mexican restaurant in town which is struggling. Townsfolk do not approve of their lifestyle. If things don’t improve at Holy Frijole, Deidre and Missy will have to close the establishment and go back to Boston. One would think this would please Scott, but he is not that kind of guy. Deep down he instinctively knows he has a limited amount of time to make a difference or do something great.

When Scott decides to participate in the annual 12K Turkey Trot, a fundraiser for the recreational center, his relationship with the women goes from bitter to hostile.

Deidre is a competitive runner and has won the race before.

Scott does not look like a threat to anyone, yet she is concerned he has something up his sleeve. Before the start of the race, Scott makes a bet with Deidre. After the shocking finish, both parties’ attitudes change.

The book comes full circle and the ending is not quite what the reader would expect.

King is an expert at weaving stories and even though Elevation is a novella of less than 150 pages, he manages to do so again.

Elevation can be found in the fiction section of the library; FIC KIN.       July 2019