The Blind by A.F. Brady
PUBLISHED BY PARK ROW BOOKS
REVIEW BY PENNY NOM
Sam James, the main protagonist of this novel, is quite upfront from the start about what she is: an alcoholic, although she doesn’t name her condition as such. On the first page of this book we find her on her knees in her office, tying up a bin bag full of her own vomit the morning after the night before.
Sam works as a psychologist at an institution in Manhattan. She is very good at her job, taking on the patients nobody else wants and assisting her colleagues whenever she can. She is good at communicating with the patients, and she’s eager to please.
Although she is competent at her job – at least at the beginning of the book – her private life is a mess. As well as being an alcoholic, she is in an abusive relationship with Lucas, 'a very damaged, very insecure little man’. She stays in the relationship and puts up with his physical and mental abuse partly because she thinks she can save him, and partly because she feels she deserves no better.
When a mysterious and feared patient arrives at the institution, Sam takes on the challenge of getting through to him. Nobody knows why Richard has been admitted, and rumours are rife. Sam eventually elicits some response from Richard, although the reason he’s been admitted isn’t revealed until the end.
As the weeks go by we see Sam’s relationship with Richard developing whilst her life spirals out of control. She is diagnosed with a personality disorder, which could jeopardise her position at work, as could her increasingly sordid and dysfunctional private life which begins to have a serious effect on the patients. During this period the boundaries of her relationship with Richard become blurred and their roles as doctor and patient somewhat reversed.
The reveal at the end of the book is a bit too abrupt – not to mention twee – for my liking, but I did enjoy this book. I liked Sam’s cynical sense of humour, although at times she did show herself to be a fairly nasty character – but that is understandable within the context of her feelings about her own self-worth. I personally found some of the passages dealing with drug and alcohol abuse challenging to read – but a book should challenge its reader, so that’s not a criticism.
This is an enjoyable book which is quick and easy to read, making it a good choice for your short daily commute or for your next beach holiday.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.