Thursday 26 February 2009

Crossing the Line / Dianne Bates

Summary - Orphaned then abandoned by long-term foster carers, teenager Sophie lives with Amy and Matt. For a long time and unknown to others, Sophie has been self-mutilating: more recently she has been in therapy. Concerned about Sophie's increasing depression, the doctor admits her to a hospital. There Sophie is placed in an adolescent ward where she forms tentative relationships with other troubled teenagers and begins sessions with psychiatrist, Helen Marshall. However, the doctor crosses the patient-therapist line, but so too does Sophie ...

Review - This was a raw, raw read. Sophie's story is a gruelling exploration into how a person's pain can manifest in many ways. Sophie's been neglected and abandoned her entire life and it has left her perspective permanently skewed. Her way of dealing with the pain - cutting.

Bates details her protagonist's dovetail with clarity and subtlety. She succeeded in making Sophie's choices understandable but there were times where I wanted to slap some sense into the girl. Her roommates are understanding to the utmost point, I am not sure how anyone could be with the mood swings, depression and the shower scene. Yet it's still grounded in truth. Having a crush on someone completely unattainable, the need to be loved and hope are all universal. However, this story shows how these universal truths can be warped when a person's been robbed of the simple things many of us take for granted - unconditional love, stability and comfort.

It would be easy to make Sophie the cliched "crazy" and while she does have her issues, she possessed great empathy, understanding and insight in other's lives. It's sad to see all that stripped away as her obsession sets in. Her single mindedness is incredulous at times, polarising at others and yet we understand where she's coming from.

Unfortunately cutting is becoming more prevalent in society, or maybe we're just all more aware of it. This book takes you into the murky reasoning for self-harm and in Sophie's case it's all about the emotional release. The relief. I think what I liked the most was there was a distinct lack of a pretty red bow tying everything together. Life isn't divided into chapters that can be nicely separated from one another and this book doesn't resolve everything either. Threads were left hanging and that really appealed to me, it added to the reality of this story - Sophie's story. Crossing the Line was written with great care by Di Bates and I highly recommend it.

Published: 2008
Format: Paperback, 214 pages
Publisher: Ford Street Publishing
Origin: Australia
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Di's Website, Enterprising Words
Two notes -
1) This book is available in the US from March 2009 at Barnes and Noble.
2) There are some lighter moments - I dog-earred this page (I know, Melina Marchetta's mother would kill me) as the humour of this drunken moment greatly appealed to me:
"Spunk. Sunk. Dunk. Drunk. The words swirl around in my head. I can see them bobbing up and down like ducks in the water. They make me grin."


Amy said...

looks like a dark subject, but good.

Keri Mikulski said...

Sounds really good. Thanks for the review! :)