Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: In The Stillness by Andrea Randall

In The Stillness by Andrea Randall

Natalie is a wife.
Natalie is a mother.
Natalie is a cutter.

Clawing at walls built by resentment, regret, and guilt, Natalie cuts as an escape from a life she never planned. 

Staying present is only possible when you let go of the past. But, what if the past won't let go?




When I read the blurb, I had no idea what is means by 'cutter'. It is not an usual term that I came across. After I learned about it, I can't imagine someone would indulge in self-inflicting pain. I'm so chickenshit that I would never ever thought of hurting myself physically. This story is told entirely from Natalie's POV about her journey into the darkness and how she finally healed and came out of it.

Natalie is a full time mother for her twins, had a husband who is studying for his doctorate, but she hated her life. She resent her husband, Eric for him being able to continue his studies, while she was stranded at home with two kids. One thing about Natalie is that, despite her constant whining about her life, she never once show that she is a bad mother. I thought she brought up two fantastic boy all on her own. Not like Eric did any help beside showing up once awhile when he was not spending all his time in the lab. When she can't deal with the stress and depression any longer, she resort to cutting herself, is a habit she thought she had managed to stopped years ago.

We were treated to some random flash back scenes to the days when she met Ryker, her high school boyfriend and their subsequent heartache when he had to be deployed to Afghanistan. This is not the first book I read about man who enlist themselves and I'm not even an American, but my heart swell every time when I read about these heroes.

The days when Ryker was away and Natalie's mother inability to understand her feelings droves her to start cutting herself, an act that make her able to take back control in her life. Just when she thought that she had overcome the huge hurdle and everything will be back to normal when Ryker is due home, everything turns to shit.

“His body came home, but his soul had been devoured in the firefight of a godless desert.”

Ryker is no longer the guy she used to know. He is suffering from some severe PTSD and she doesn't know how to help him. Despite her efforts to be with him, things turn ugly one day and their relationship was torn apart. There was an ongoing suspense in which I'm dying to learn what happen that make thing strong couple broke up.

Meanwhile, back to present, Natalie was thinking about her loveless marriage and her constant fight with Eric. Everything he does seems to irritate the hell out of her and he doesn't understand her predicament. It grates on her nerve that he thinks there is nothing wrong with their relationship and everything is peachy. She resort to her coping mechanism, which is cutting the hell out of her body.

My first impression on Natalie's behavior was repulsive because I just don't get people who cut themselves. But the author did a fabulous job in making us connect with Natalie because before long I'm right in Natalie's head and I totally understand why she did that. I just hope she gets well and have a healthy life ahead.

Despite the gloominess of her situation, there are some guardian angels in Natalie's life that helped her along the way. Tosha, her best friend since high school always have her back and provide a much needed emotional support, there was also Billy, Ryker's dad and George, the war vet she met while volunteering.

Things finally take a shift and I'm exhilarated when Ryker appeared once again back in Natalie's life. She had not seen him for over a decade and yet here he is, right in front of her. Not only is he still alive, he looks healthy and happy. Is this fate or what?

With her marriage in tatters, her son's medical condition and Ryker reappearance, Natalie had a shit load to deal with. Considering her unhealthy coping mechanism, I find that Natalie was a brave and courageous soul who manage to take her life in stride. I'm glad that she finally deemed herself in need of therapy and decided to seek help to overcome her issues.

Oh, Ryker. What can I say about this man? Although most of his story was told in Natalie's flashback, I felt connected to him as well. It broke our heart to see him suffering after returning from the war as a broken soul. Now they both harbor a lot guilt on their shoulders from the tragedy that happened upon them years ago. It is finally time for them to let go and heal their broken soul. His love letters for Nat make me swoon and I'm rooting for him to win Nat back.

I love every bits of Natalie's journey, the love, joy, heartache and sorrow. Despite all that, what make it such a worthwhile journey is of course the happy ending that she so well deserve. At the end of the day, I guess this story is trying to advise us to seek help when you needs it and there is always light and the end of the darkness.

“Heroes don’t always wear capes, badges, or uniforms. Sometimes, they support those who do.”