Sympathy is a gorgeously wonderful book. What's most impressive about it is its authenticity. The characters aren't sugar-coated. People behave in humanly flawed ways. It's gritty and real.
Kerry Taylor is a woman who's in a catatonic state. After having endured a horrifically violent car accident that left her husband and child dead, she Taylor finds herself still living, simply because she reached down to grab something just before the moment of impact. The guilt and shock of this are so unendurable she chooses to retreat within herself, in order to protect what little she has left.
After months of getting nowhere with her, her mother takes her to a mental institution called Rosewood Clinic, where Dr. Michael Myatt practices his distinctive form of sympathetic therapy. Rather than talking his patients to death, Dr. Myatt instead sits with them intuiting what's at the heart of their problems. Once that's ascertained he embarks on a program of drawing them out of themselves, employing various therapies including a float in a hot tub. All seems to be proceeding effectively until another trauma sets things reeling all over again.
The book is truly remarkable. It has such depth, and all is told with infinite compassion. The use of Kerry's journal as a way of shedding more light on her life is a very useful technique. We hear about her from her own mind at a time when she's completely shut down. This works very well, and really adds a lot of dimension to the story.
Truly an exceptional book, and I highly recommend it.
on March 26, 2006
It's been weeks since I finished Sympathy. And I still think about it. I wish I could update the stars--I'd give it five now.
The realistic characters unfolded and touched each other in this inner-mystery. The dating/sexual relationship showed affection and disconnection. The kinestheic therapy had great impact on the characters (and me reading it) although it was occasionally magical--I'm not sure anyone deletes their own emotional filter.
I was never quite sure how the book would end until the last page. Then I went back to the beginning to understand how well she wove it together. (Thank you, Ms. Crane, for the signed advance copy in Seattle!)