Monday 7 September 2015

Book ~ "Always Watching" (2013) Chevy Stevens

From GoodreadsIn the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people and she has the desire - healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.

When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her - and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island. What happened to Nadine? Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today?

And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most … and fight back.

Sometimes you can leave the past, but you can never escape.

When Nadine was younger, her mother took her and her brother to live in a commune run by Aaron Quinn for eight months.  It wasn't a happy time for Nadine.  She is now claustrophobic and assumes something at the commune had caused it.  Now in her fifties and widowed, she works in a psychiatric hospital helping others.

When a patient named Heather is admitted after a suicide attempt, Nadine discovers that they have a lot in common.  Heather and her husband had been living in a commune run by Quinn.  When they left, Quinn had said that they would be punished and bad things would happen to them.  In her unstable mind, Heather starts to believe this to be true.

Talking with Heather starts to stir up long forgotten memories for Nadine and she becomes determined to find out what happened to her at the commune and hopefully shut it down so others won't be damaged as she was.

In the meantime, Nadine's daughter, Lisa, who is in her twenties, ran away seven years ago and has been become an addict.  Nadine has over the years tried to find her and bring her home to get cleaned up.

I thought this book was okay.  Reading about the commune and the charismatic leader's ability to have such control over people was interesting.  In this case, it came down to hope for a better life and weed.  I thought the writing was okay ... I found it dragged a bit in some places.  It's written in first person perspective from Nadine's point of view. As a head's up, there is swearing and descriptions of sexual abuse of children.

It was nice to read about a character my age for a change (most heroines are in their twenties and thirties).  Nadine was trying to deal with a bunch of crap from her childhood and how it affects her today.  Though I know Lisa had addiction problems, I didn't find her likable at all and had no sympathy for her.  If I'd been Nadine, I would have written her off a long time ago.  You can't help people if they won't help themselves ... and Lisa was so nasty.

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