Sunday, May 20, 2012

Inside-Alix Ohlin


Alix Ohlin

Knopf, Jun 5 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307596925

In 1996, Grace Tomlinson, a dedicated therapist, is cross country skiing on Mount Royal when she trips over a man who tried to hang himself. She calls 911 and he is taken to Montreal General. She follows and learns his name is John Tugwell and offers to listen to him. After he tells authorities it was a lover’s prank with his girlfriend Grace that went bad, she takes him home and insists on staying to insure he does not try again.

Her sixteen years old patient Annie Hardwick is a cutter who feels ugly and fears telling her perfect parents she is pregnant. To help her with her woes, Grace tells her to pretend to be an actress in various roles. However, Annie plans to run away to New York where she will become an actress at any cost without any relationships as she knows they always cut.

Meanwhile Grace’s ex-husband Mitch the therapist decides to head to the Arctic to help a native village struggling to survive in the harsh conditions. He leaves behind in Montreal the woman he cherishes.

This character study focuses on four Canadians connected by Grace over several years and locales including Rwanda. Each of the protagonists is unique with flaws that drive them at times to react excessively. The two therapists feel “reaching out into the darkness” to a friend and lover is why they chose their profession as a boost to their ego; while the two patients feel their self-esteem crumble whenever they accept the reaching out offer of help. Insightful and thought provoking, codependency can prove emotionally dangerous to the transmitter and the receiver.

Harriet Klausner

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