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Monday, March 02, 2009

Peeling the Onion - Wendy Orr

HOW did I miss this book that's been out for ten years? AND how did I stumble across it now? Sometimes I know exactly how or why I'm reading a particular book. I remember that it's won an award or I remember who told me about it, but then there are other times when I just have no clue. Did it just strike my fancy as I walked past it in the library? Did I see it mentioned on someone's blog? Did a student tell me about it? I need to start keeping track of that I guess...Or at least paying better attention.

Anyway! This is a really powerful book which explores the feelings of a young woman who's been badly injured in a car accident. She has, in fact, broken her neck as well as her ankle, and, in many ways, even her spirit. In the morning she is a karate champion, by evening she is in the hospital trauma unit, no one knowing what her future holds. In fact, the accident has drastically altered both her present and her future.

The book delves deeply into Anna's thoughts and feelings as she struggles to find a way for herself in this "new" body of hers, one which works so poorly compared to her incredibly athletic pre-accident body. She fights constant pain, fear, anger, frustration, and personal relationship issues. Her family supports her but clearly they are all affected by her accident as well, and have their own issues to work through as well. Some of her friends stick by her, and some don't. Among those who do is the boy who was driving the car, her new boyfriend, Hayden. And yet this relationship somehow holds her, and him, back, stuck in a time before, one that no longer exists.

Whether Anna will be able to find a way to manage the pain and work through the suffering is at the crux of this novel. There are many days when she'd rather not see things through. Many times when she feels everyone would just be better off without her. A new friend, some counseling, and small victories along the way do give her some hope, but will hope be enough? Will she be able to peel away the layers of her self and find the brightness she needs to live in a meaningful way, so different from what she'd envisioned?

This was another book I listened to on my ipod and ended up in tears as I was driving.

I just learned that Australian Wendy Orr worked as an occupational therapist until a severe car accident changed her life. No wonder she had such great insight!

This book is available at the Multnomah County Library. There is a similar book in our library called Izzy, Willy Nilly that you might take a look at if this title sounded interesting but you can't get to the public library.

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