"I could not put it down. Recommended for all ages. Superbly entertaining." - ReadersFavorite.com
"A touching story." - IndieReader.com
"Humorous, entertaining, and touching. A major work by a masterful writer." - Grady Harp, Amazon.com Hall of Fame Top 500 Reviewer
"One of the most interesting and inspiring books that I've read in a long time." - Heather Monson, editor
"I did not want to turn the last page." - Jen Johnson, Author/Playwright
"A captivating story. The author skillfully weaves these threads together and provides exciting scenes of danger, daring, and escape." - Kirkus Reviews
"It is very rarely that I finish a book and want to yell and scream about how much I enjoyed it. WOW!!!!!" - John Around The Corner Reviews
From the Author
Q: What was your inspiration for this unique story?
A: The idea for 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace came to me after watching a news story about a man who suffered a similar fate as Aaron. He contracted a rare form of meningitis as a boy that caused full paralysis. Though he was still alive, he was trapped in his mind for nearly fourteen years, aware of everything going on around him, but no one knew it. Eventually, he recovered limited mobility and speech, and was lucky enough to find love and be married.
This amazing story pulled my thoughts toward a few elderly men I knew, who in a sense were also trapped in their own minds, but their imprisonment was due to the suffering caused by dementia and Alzheimer's disease. These men were once strong, witty, vibrant, and full of life, with years of experiences and amazing stories to tell. But over time, their diseases took away those memories and/or jumbled them with others, leaving their family and friends to watch their slow and sad decline.
Merging these two experiences together, Aaron and Solomon's story developed-- a coming-of-age story entwined with an end-of-age story written with a hint of nostalgia, a hint of the whimsical unknown, and a heart-warming hope for the beauty of life.
I really tried to write the story in the tradition of Mitch Albom, merging a bit of the Back to the Future humor and plot twists with the inspirational, feel-good, warm-and-fuzzies of Tuesday's with Morrie.
Q: There's quite a bit of historical fiction in the novel. Did you do a lot of research?
A: As the story unfolded, I soon realized I was very much writing a historical fiction that spanned sixty years between the 1920's to the 1980's. This led to more research than I had originally anticipated, but it also came with the added bonus of some very cool discoveries and interesting facts--though not everything is fact. For the sake of the story, I took a few artistic liberties along the way.
Q: What artistic liberties did you take?
A: At the end of the book, I have an author's note that gives insights to scenes from the story, explaining where the ideas originated and separating historical fact from fiction. There's a bit of time travel aspect to the story, and for the most part I stayed true to historical accounts. I only tweaked things a bit to include celebrities from those time periods as they interacted with our two main characters.
Q: Was there a passage that really struck a chord with you as you were writing?
A: There were a few scenes where I laughed out loud and where I cried real tears as I wrote them. Since I do most of my writing at the local library, this led to some odd looks from library patrons as they passed the table where I laughed and cried.
But there is one line in particular that I love. It comes from our aging jazz musician, Solomon, as he talks about music and life with his young roommate.
"We're a regular mixed-up group. But I tell you what, Aaron. It's good to have a melting pot of friends. You need a little variety in your life. It's like music. We're all different and play our own instruments, but to make music, real, beautiful music, you gotta blend together."
Solomon gave me a wink. "It's all about playing in harmony."
I just love these sentiments from Solomon. Music, especially jazz, is such an important part of the story, and Solomon really pulls the jazz music aspect into their lives in such a beautiful way.
Q: Is this a good story for a book club or school group?
A: Yes! And I'd love to join any book clubs via video chat to discuss the story. At the back of the book, I've also included a number of discussion questions for book clubs and school groups to use in their meetings.
Q: What age group is this book recommended for?
A: I really wanted to write something for all ages that both my kids and grandparents could enjoy. There's no bad language, sex scenes, or graphic violence in the story, but there are some heavy themes with illness, death, World War II, and a scene in a concentration camp. I tried to bring the reader into the scene, feel those moments, but not drudge them through the mud of graphic detail as I worked to keep it age appropriate.
With that said, I would recommend 10+ as the age recommendation. My 7, 9, and 11 year old children all read the story on their own, but they're avid readers and I'd say 10+ as a general rule of thumb. It's been fascinating to hear from parents who read the story with their children, elderly readers who really connected with the characters and loved the story, and young singles who equally enjoyed the book. It really is a story for all ages.