As these menacing thoughts dance inside my head, I lean over my desk and try to grasp reality. I see myself from the ceiling of my office like I’m in a movie and the crew is using a wide-angle lens. This coffee doesn’t taste like coffee anymore. I’m watching my arm lift the cup to my lips, but it doesn’t feel like I’m the one drinking it. As I pitch forward to throw up in my garbage can, I see my hair fall over my face, but it doesn’t feel like I’m the one vomiting.
THE BLIND held me in its grip from the dedication: “For the misunderstood.” A.F. Brady has done a fantastic job of depicting mental illness not as a stigmatizing element of a person’s makeup, but just one component of his or her DNA.
I’m not saying that the story is preachy. It’s not. THE BLIND is told from anti-heroine Dr. Samantha James, who workers in a psychiatric ward called Typhlos (Greek for blind, I believe). We see almost immediately that she’s highly competent at work—a “superhero” with lots of “shine”—and a mess outside Typlos’s walls.
Well, if you can’t save yourself, save someone else.
Sam’s savior complex extends to her abusive boyfriend, Lucas, who can be in turns charming and terrifying. At times while I read THE BLIND, I wanted to reach my hands through the pages and strangle Sam myself. She can’t stop herself from making self-destructive choices, whether she’s drinking herself catatonic or making out with strangers.
If I’m painting Sam in a poor light, it’s because her self-effacing narration screams out for help. We’ve all known someone in the grips of crisis, and when we can’t relieve that person’s suffering, we feel impotent and helpless.
Sam has a mystery to solve in the form of enigmatic patient Richard McHugh. He’s admitted with an almost empty file. She knows he’s been in prison for most of his life, but she has no other history on him. Most of the book is dedicated to unraveling this mystery while Sam comes to grips with her own demons.
I’ll admit that I solved the mystery about halfway through the book. Usually, that would earn a novel at least one star demotion, but I found that it didn’t diminish the joy I found in the story. Consequently, I’m giving THE BLIND five stars. It’s a good choice for your nightstand.