The Dead Silence by Jane B.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a weird one; extra stars given here for the subject matter itself and not the story or characters or way it is told. This is a book about the various psychoses surrounding motherhood, and in particular, the negative ones; it does a great job of detailing these and opening your eyes to postpartum depression, and a whole host of other disorders, but it does so at the expense of everything else. The exploration is sometimes essay-like, and always through conversation, the problem being that you could interchange who was speaking and it wouldn't matter. There's even one moment where Anna, suffering from a disorder and in a counselling session with Dr Sam Haley, who up until now has spoken in barely legible broken sentences, suddenly opens up and has a deep, philosophical revelation, all to get a point across it seems.
The information in the book is important, but as a novel, could have been handled better. We follow Sam Haley around as he talks to mothers, holds counselling sessions and explores what he wants to do with his life. But he, like many of the characters, are often vessels for the message being told. He's a good man, but he's one-dimensional. The most interesting moments, and the most depressing, are when we are seeing through the eyes of Anna, or her mother, Maria, in a plot that explores more directly this interaction. There's also a plot involving Sam's secretary, but I'm not entirely sure what this adds to the story. Perhaps a sense of foreboding, which if true is actually displayed with a good sense of understatement, sometimes missing in indie work I have read recently.
One question that always arises with indie work is the writing and editing: here, while it does need another edit to clear up some grammar issues which are just errors, an edit couldn't really help the writing style which is perfectly readable, but does sometimes read as though English was a second language for the writer. This works well for the Anna sequences, but not so well for the doctor sequences. One more slight quibble is that if there is more than one character in a scene, the POV will move freely between them, which is slightly jarring.
Overall, worth reading for the message it has to tell.
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