Friday, April 26, 2019

Room 11 by mari.reiza

Unique telling of what’s going on around and with a coma patient but so much more.

Told from the viewpoints of two different women, this novel chronicles an accident victim’s sojourn in a nursing facility while in a coma (and so much more!) Although the woman’s family quickly gives up hope of her recovery, her husband stays by her side caring for her, singing and talking to her throughout the day (and night), for months. He is assisted in his watch by a nurse assigned to the room his wife where his wife lays, an immigrant from Ghana who is still adjusting to her life far from her home and her tragic past. It is her voice that starts us out and tells us what has happened to the patient, about her care and the husband’s constant vigil. As she recounts her interaction with the couple, we see her slowly developing a disturbing obsession for the husband and building a relationship with him - in her mind.

This woman’s narrative is offset with what the comatose wife is “dreaming” as the days slip by. Those dreams fill us in on the relationship between the husband and wife, the wife and her family, and the events and circumstances that preceded the accident that put her in the coma. While the husband sings to his wife, she dreams that he is sleeping in a hotel room her keeping her “awake” with his snoring.

What a great and inventive story! The plotline of the nurse’s growing infatuation with the husband is intense, creepy, and moving. The glimpses into her day-to-day life as an immigrant are very interesting. The wife’s grief over the loss of a child was tragic and emotion-filled. I found myself longing for the wife to recover especially as the husband slowly, but inevitably, begins to lose hope.

In both instances, the nurse and the patient, the narrative pours forth in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style of writing so we’re getting every thought and feeling, which are sometimes frankly intimate or sexual in nature, that passes through each woman’s mind. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I felt it appropriate, and liked it.

I recommend this book for readers of contemporary fiction, medical stories with romance, and those that don’t mind storylines with some pretty earthy passages.

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