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CAPTIVATING AND ABSORBING!
on June 21, 2013
This story takes you into the lives of four very strong characters in different times and in different places.
It was wintertime in Montreal in the year 1996, when GRACE Tomlinson, a psychologist, was cross-country skiing on Mount-Royal. One of her clients had cancelled and so she was free to go skiing while it was still light. One skier had been there before her, leaving a path of parallel stripes. She crouched down and picked up speed and when she turned the bend she tripped over the body of a man. When Grace caught her breath she asked him if he was okay. He didn't respond. She knelt down to check the pulse in his neck. Grace noticed he had a rope around his neck and a branch was broken off. She untied the rope, loosened his clothes and skied off to the Chalet to call 911. In French, she tried to explain where in the woods they were. The Urgence Sante men arrived and took the man to the hospital. Grace followed them in her car. The Urgence Sante men assumed they were a couple. She wasn't sure why she was following, but she was curious to find out what would drive him to hang himself. Later on, she found out his name was John Tugwell. She waited for him and drove him home. Grace stayed with TUG, the name he told her to call him. She didn't want to leave him alone for fear he would try it again. Why did Tug want to end his life? Grace was interested to find out and she would soon find out so much more.
ANNIE Hardwick was sixteen years old and a patient of Grace. She aspired to be an actress. Her father was an orthodontist and her mother a lawyer. Annie's problem was cutting herself, inflicting self-injury. She had an assignment to do from her last session. She gave it to Grace. She wrote that she was pregnant. Annie told Grace not to tell her parents, but Grace said that she couldn't do that. Annie was under age and Grace had to tell them. Annie left the office. Grace told her to remember that she had options. It was January, 2002, when Annie ran away to New York to pursue an acting career. She met a guy named Larry in her acting class, who told her about an apartment on the Lower East Side where the rent was cheap. He had hoped to have sex with her in exchange. Her name was now Anne. Anne took the apartment and dropped the class. She had enough money to tide her over while she looked for a job as a temp in an office and then found a bit part in a play. One day, when she returned home she found a homeless person sleeping in the lobby of her building. Anne thought the person was a male. The next day he was still there. There was a smell of urine wafting up the stairwell. A neighbour was about to call the police when Anne went to talk to the person and found out the person under the smelly blanket was a girl. The girl told Anne she was hungry and wanted to use her shower. Anne said okay. The girl's name was Hilary. She too was a runaway. Anne made her a sandwich and gave her some clothes. In exchange for room and board, Hilary kept the house tidy. Anne was wondering why she allowed her to stay, but soon enough Anne found out. Gradually they became strange, unlikely roommates.
MITCH, a clinical psychologist, was married to Grace. After a time, Mitch met a woman, Martine, on the day her divorce became final. She was forty-five years old, a lawyer, very smart and sexy. Martine had a son Mathieu, who was a difficult child. He had Asperger's. Martine's ex husband left her because he couldn't cope with it. Mitch fell in love with Martine and her son. Soon after, their relationship became strained and he felt he had to get away. In 2006, Mitch received a contract to spend a few months in Iqaluit. His skills were needed in the native community. The money was great and there was a lack of healthcare in the north. The problems were numerous eg drugs, alcohol abuse, depression, violence etc. It was there that Mitch met Thomasie, a young boy with a lot of problems. Mitch was going to help straighten him out.
Inside is a thought-provoking read. The characters all have problems of their own and yet they insist on putting all their energies into saving others. Perhaps in that way, they won't have to deal with their own problems.
Alix Ohlin's writing is smooth and at the same time captivating. She draws you in from the beginning and holds your interest to the very end. I enjoyed this novel and can highly recommend it.
Inside was a Finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.