Don’t Wake Up: Shauna Kelley
Spiral staircase has many twists, winds and turns as the person that is either ascending or descending this intricate staircase decides to make their way up or down. As the person treads carefully on each stair he/she needs to be careful of the openings within this staircase and not fall within the intricate pattern created. But, this staircase is not the only thing that can cause you to fall and descend into fallen hole but life can do the same as you try to overcome childhood fears and obstacles created by others or even yourself as you suffer the torment, deal with the pain and finally try and see your way out of this maze and into the light or a path that is smooth and goes in the right direction. The center of a spiral before the winds can often create a vacuum or hiding place for someone that whose destiny and direction is clouded, unsure and uncertain. Gillian Avery has been hiding her whole life. You might say she is living in this world in way that she hopes no one will notice her. Being invisible makes her able to wander through life and not care about what she does, her appearance or her strife. Living in the shadow of herself, hiding behind her limitations and making excuses for them allows her to justify her actions. Gillian uses these limitations to often fall prey to the wiles of others and at times her naivety in certain instances and circumstances leads her down the wrong spiral road. We meet her as she reflects about her childhood and shares with the reader a definition of a word that most think they know: Love. But, the dictionary provides the words you need to provide the rest. Gilly learns this the hard way and when she falls for anyone she falls hard landing not on her feet most of the time. Meeting Ricky was her downfall but as a young girl trying to find love and wanting to be accepted, she does not see it clearly until much later on when it is too late. For young girls that might read this book take a lesson from Gilly and realize that one moment’s indiscretion can cost you a lifetime of unhappiness. Gilly spends two decades wondering why she did not pay closer attention as a youth. We meet her family when she is just a child and learn about her sister Liza and her close friendship with another girl named Rayna. Watching them interact made her uncomfortable when her family found out it ended more than just their relationship. Meeting Ricky she thinks that he is wonderful but he is cruel, manipulative and divisive. His mother is steel hearted and stands in her way resenting her from the start. We meet her in the present sitting in the hospital staring at her husband; Ricky hooked up to machines and monitors. Author Shauna Kelley masterfully guides the reader as she allows you to enter the mind of Gillian and understand her rationale, feelings, frustrations and actions while wondering if she really wants her husband to wake up. Ricky had a mysterious fall leaving him in a coma. As we listen to Gillian relate the events leading up to his arrival at the hospital we begin to question whether she really wanted him alive or dead. Added in we learn more about her family, her sister Liza and her close relationship with another girl named Rayna that sent her away from her family too. Parents that were judgmental and a town that casts shadows over those who do not conform or comply to their way of thinking we begin to understand why Gillian and her family are so dysfunctional and miles apart.
Gillian is resourceful if not really smart even though she seems to feel that she has limited options, if any to escape her life. While sitting and wishing that he never awaken he does but minus his memory. Able to remember the past but not the present she convinces him into thinking that they had this idyllic life and great family. Creating a scrapbook out of magazine pictures and planting the seeds in his mind he thinks their life together was really wonderful without any thought to the fact that she is lying and does it quite well. Added in she lies to his mother about the fact that he is up and feels that because of her coldness towards her this is the least she can do to put off the inevitable plus the doctor questioned hearing her talk about this false family and hopefully she won’t blow her cover.
Entering the room she decided to test his memory and see how far she could go with the charade to learn whether he is lying about losing his memory. Relating what happened when her sister left and how her parents reacted to her being pregnant you wonder why she remained within the confines of their grip and why she just did not leave after her child died. Lying seems to come easy to her and dealing with Ricky she becomes more cunning, deceptive and greedy in many respects. With each question he asks she comes up with an answer but when things heat up she leaves hoping to find solace in another man’s arms. Meeting Roger at the bar she becomes involved in a superficial way but never reveals too much about her life. Seemingly in control of her own destiny for appearances sake but is she as the author shares the events that followed her son’s death. The questions continue is he remembering?
Family memories flood back when Gillian wanted to return home and her parents turned her away. With parents that did not listen or even feel her pain she decided to life a life of regrets. Now, coming back to this house she is flooded with memories. But, when she returns home Ricky alerts her to some facts about things that happened when she was gone which creates doubt in her mind as to whether he might or might not recall his past. An ending that will make you wonder whose side you will take if either one. Truths and lies uncovered, feelings expressed and blame cast in many directions as Gillian faces her demons head on and Ricky’s past comes to light in the present. Uncovering some information about him leads to her two startling revelations. Casting blame on herself or doubt does not even come into play with her as she states he is cold, calculating and justifies her actions after he son’s death and blames him for not supporting her but did he? Two people living in the same house one should have left way so why didn’t she? Just what really happened when he fell you have to read and judge for yourself. What happens to them and how Gillian winds up will definitely leave you with many unanswered questions that you might want to confront her with if you met her or could interview her? Why does she lie to Ricky about his past and will he learn one startling truth that might set his mind free and bring him back to the present? Don’t Wake Up: Living in a fog and unveiling the truth might do more than wake up both of them as they learn the true meaning of the word Lie.
This is one great mystery with a surprise ending and one girl named Gillian whose life took a sour turn because she thought she understood the meaning of the word LOVE but did she ever really experience it. This is a unique novel with a great plot that will keep you glued to the printed page from start to finish. I wonder where life will take Gilly next.
Fran Lewis: reviewer