How far would you go for your high school crush?
Frank Lundquist, former test subject for his famous psychologist father and now, at 32, a well-established psychologist himself, finds himself relegated to a position working at an upstate New York women’s prison after a series of professional and personal breakdowns. To his surprise, he finds that one of his new patients is Miranda Greene, the girl he pined after in high school even though she didn’t know his name. Ignoring his moral obligation to assign Miranda to another counselor, Frank decides he will make it his mission to support and "fix" her. Miranda has been through her share of ordeals, and she contemplates how she got to her current situation as she makes friends with some of the other inmates. As Frank becomes more and more obsessed with "helping" Miranda, the book speeds toward an unexpected finale which questions the idea of right and wrong. The chapters alternate between Frank’s chapters (in first-person) and Miranda’s chapters (in third), shedding light on their motivations and what’s going on behind each of their facades. They're each surrounded by interesting side characters, from Frank’s little brother who's a junkie to Miranda’s ex-military prison friend, who deepen the world of the novel and add nuance to the main characters. Frank and Miranda both have traumatic events in their pasts that have made them what they are and haunt their every action, but though these events are built up, they're never fully explained, which makes the characters' emotions hard to follow at times. Nevertheless, the forward surge of the narrative never slows, pulling the reader along for the ride.
Immergut (Private Property, 1992) has spun an interesting tale with fully realized characters whose ups and downs are compelling, even if sometimes confusing.