A young woman becomes haunted by her trauma-ridden past and the temptation of suicide.
Clair’s childhood was achingly loveless: her father was at best emotionally indifferent to her existence, and her mother unabashedly hostile. Her worst treatment, though, came at the hands of her sadistic brother, who subjected her to unspeakable sexual abuse. An aspiring artist, Clair constantly wrestles with the grim remembrances of her youth and repeatedly turns to drugs and alcohol for solace or self-destruction. While at a psychiatric hospital, she meets Hunter, a handsome contemporary, and they begin a tumultuous relationship that drags on in fits and starts. His past is similar to hers—a childhood marred by abuse and a young adulthood lost to self-medication. Clair becomes so overwhelmed by despair that she starts to obsessively consider suicide, an option that seems like a rational response to ceaseless pain and hopelessness. But her therapist, Glenn, is committed to saving her even if that means employing the most unconventional forms of treatment. Glenn helps Clair to understand her torment and the path out of it: “Clair, what you see in the mirror is the face of torment. You are not the demon. The past that haunts you is, and I want you to know the difference.” In Waters’ (Three Days in Heaven, 2015) second book, he examines a subject close to his heart—his sister committed suicide. This tale, apparently based on a true story, is affectingly composed; Clair’s attempts to clamber out of her sordid origins remain unavoidably inspiring. The prose is simple and unadorned, allowing the power of the plot to speak for itself. Sometimes the gleefulness with which the ghastly comeuppance of others is expressed is unseemly. The narrator seems delighted to relate the fate of Clair’s brother: sexual enslavement in prison. But overall, this is a ringing testament to the call of faith in life itself.
An emotionally unsettling but brave look at the depths of human despondency.