Thursday, July 28, 2016

"Nina Is Not OK" by Shappi Khorsandi

An amazingly insightful book with a main character, Nina, who tore at my heartstrings.  Everything has gone wrong for poor Nina: her father died of alcoholic pancreatitis when she was little, her Mum has a new life with a new partner, and her beloved boyfriend Jamie has decided to take a gap year in Hong Kong before university, then dumps her long-distance when he meets someone else.  Like many young people, Nina likes a drink - or many, and it is starting to leave black holes in her memory and mess up her life.  This story depicts an avalanche of ill fortune and bad judgement but told in such a deft way that our sympathies are kept very much on Nina's side, as we learn how very badly people can behave.  Will Nina be the ultimate victim?  Or will she learn to live with herself and others, and take a different path?  I thought this story was brilliant and that it should be read by everyone.  It shows how damaging low self esteem can be and how it is possible to take a new direction in life.  With cyber-bullying and revenge porn such contemporary issues, it is highly relevant to growing up today and it is one I would want to share with my teenaged children,  It is a gem of a book.  Shappi Khorsandi has a magic muse.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

A somewhat difficult book to read and to review, without giving too much away.  The book is set in small town America and opens with the story of a teenager going to her first house party, invited by her crush.  Things do not work out as anyone would have hoped, and there is an account of a harrowing, brutal rape which I found hard to read and almost gave up.  However, I persevered.  The victim, Jenny is given a drug treatment to erase the memories of this horrible attack, even though it will hinder police investigation of the crime, but it does not work well and memories begin to bubble up, causing much distress.

The next section is written like a case history, as a psychiatrist/psychotherapist gives his account of his treatment of Jenny and her family, and others who have suffered various trauma.  Having  worked in psychiatric and therapeutic settings, I felt very much at home with this, until events made me begin to question the professionalism and ethics of the psychiatrist.

The book throws up all sorts of questions and, as others have mentioned, would be rich pickings for a book club discussion: power in relationships, professional boundaries, the morality of removing troublesome memories of trauma as opposed to seeking to help trauma victims come to terms with what has happened to them and deal with triggers for PTSD are just some of them.  Also,  how far would you go to protect your child?

"Physician, heal thyself" seems pertinent, as does the famous Hippocratic oath, "First,  do no harm."  It is a thought provoking and good if (at times) difficult read.  My final summation was Macchiavelli meets Lolita.  It is a good psychological thriller that will keep the reader guessing.  It is powerful stuff.  You can buy yours in any good book store, or via this link.

 Wendy Walker has worked as an attorney specialising in family law. She lives in Connecticut where she is at work on her next novel.

Want to see what other reviewers have thought?  Here are the other stops on the blog tour:-