The Preservationist: Justin Kramon
Images can be created to suit whatever situations we face and all too often we can adjust these images the same way a photographer adjusts the lens in his/her camera before taking a picture and that final image appears within that camera’s lens. Julia Stilwell created a image for those she met in college as a quiet, shy and guarded young woman trying to cope with a tragedy in her life yet never letting her guard down or allowing others to get too close. Reflecting about her life and her dates she began to shift gears many times deciding just what to bring along with her on a date with a new young man. Accidents happen and cannot be prevented no matter how hard you beat yourself up after the fact the event has occurred and you cannot change the course of history. Julia’s guilt, her refusal to let go of what happened to her brother and the accident that caused his death, remains foremost in her mind, uppermost in her thoughts and is preserved and secured so tightly holding the key to her heart as if it were in a safety deposit box under lock and key or displayed in museum preserving it forever.
Sam Blount is entering a turning point in his life and hopes to find some consolation in developing a relationship with Julia as he turns 40. A new decade, a lifetime of memories that is shared with readers and a man whose life is a total mystery caught in the memories of his youth, his mother’s teachings and his father’s neglect. Odd in his appearance, his demeanor and living in the past, Sam is what most would call a Preservationist, as he holds on to his memories, keeps them stored in a box, never parted with his mother’s possessions and lives within a world created and orchestrated so well that no one really knows who Sam really is. Impressions are often what you want others to think about you as some would think Sam is a polite man, boyish looking for his 39 years, oddly dressed and filled with dark thoughts and hidden shadows that linger over him.
Marcus Broley is a college student who seems interested in Julia but whose appearance although quite handsome seems to give off an aura of secrecy. Hoping to get to know Julia better they begin to date but something about him seems off to her and the thoughts drift to Sam. Wanting to see Marcus again he encounters Sam and the incident leaves them both cold and confused. A college student with hopes for a bright future yet seems to have a dark past that he is not sharing with anyone. Dealing with disappointment was difficult for him and using physical activity and running a good from of release. As he and Julia began a relationship it ended just as fast. Reliving the phone calls and trying to win her back did not help to preserve what little they had. Realizing that Sam was the wrong choice for her and not being able to put his finger on why makes readers wonder if her judgment was really flawed, if she was looking for a different type of father figure other than her own or she was just naïve. Plans were made as a result of an incident or just seeing something that would set your ideas in motion. As Julia and Sam seemed to becoming closer you wonder what Marcus was planning to help change that and why? You also wonder just what in his past is linked to wanting to get to have Julia in his future.
Each Chapter is presented by either the character stating his/her feelings and goals or an events that one or more attend allowing readers to get inside the minds of all three of these interesting characters. Julia seems changed after getting close to Sam and having her father pay her a surprise visit. Backing off on pressuring her to live at home we learn more about Sam, the lies that he creates in order to get Julia to spend time with him, the feeling that something about his mother’s death has yet to be revealed and why someone is out to scare not only Julia but Sam too. Her window left opened twice, a dead cat mangled and left in her room, someone called Sam with a threat, Marcus seems to be bent on watching him and she finds Leanette’s boyfriend in her room out of nowhere. Several red flags but something that was missing about Drew’s attire surprised Julia and made her wonder just what he was looking for and where he hid the key to her room that he claimed he had. One girl is raped on campus and Julia is given news that might change her life. When another girl comes forward that she was attacked and the similarities between her and the rape at Julia’s school come to light just who is behind it and why accuse Sam?
Sam seems to be crowding Julia and this would give anyone pause for thought as he claims to be concerned about her or is there another reason he showed up without her wanting him there? Over powering, overbearing and definitely mishandling the relationship, Julia begins to take more than just a few steps back from Sam but why? Age could be one thing as she is 18 and he is 40 or is there something about him that is sending her more than just one red flag? Blunt, to the point, insistent that he stays away from her will he get the message or is their relationship gone? What about the news she received? Plus, who keeps calling him and saying he was the rapist?
Images change and perceptions often too as Sam’s whole world seems to be shattering as one man has made it is mission to destroy him. Approaching Marcus, Sam gets no satisfaction in his reaction but what hidden truth lies beneath Marcus’s demeanor. When Julia goes home and tries to confide in her mother, why does he lash out at her for her brother’s death and much more? Preservation: Many meanings within the layers of this intricate novel as Sam tries to live his life within the confines of his own mind and how he thinks each day she progress. Julia is living her life regretting one night, her friend’s reaction to her wanting to leave a party and hoping that she would find comfort once more if she returned to the place where decisions were made for her. Her mother locked within the hate she harbors for Julia and wanting her anywhere but living at home and a father overprotective and only trying to keep his family together but at what cost?
Sam’s mind is filled with what he thinks should happen with his relationship with Julia. Just how far will he go to make her think that Marcus is stalking him, creating dangerous situations for him and falsely accusing him of many things. As we hear his innermost thoughts and learn some harsh truths about his past actions we wonder why Julia did not go with her first reaction and why she decides to follow a dangerous path. An abusive father, a mother who refused to fight back and one young man scarred for life as we learn that being a preservationist is not just saving and hoarding the items from his past but someone who refuses to move on, cannot take reject, change and feels as the author relates that he takes a “ loss as a great betrayal.”
Getting to know Marcus we learn about his past, the one girl that he truly loved and the reason he is so attracted to Julia. But, hearing him play some of my favorite pieces, Bach, Chopin, fugues and etudes I can hear the piano’s voice as Marcus finds himself buried within the music, memories come flooding back as he plays progressions, chords and more.
But, Julia is now trapped within an isolated cabin with Sam and his feelings are coming out, his true colors quite frightening and what will the end result be and what about the appointment she has made? Who is Sam? What is his motive and why is Julia concerned about the missing shoebox?
A painting, drawing, picture or photograph of a person can change over the years or even over a short period of time. Stress, fear, disease, illness and just daily life can create many different images within these photos as they are taken over different time spans. Sam reflects on the truth behind his father’s death. He remembers the huge cloud that should have formed when you lose someone you are supposed to care about. But, the author reveals many hidden truths about Sam and we learn what really lies behind the outer portrait and within the framework of what most would say his mind, brain or gray matter.
There are many different images and portraits that change within this novel but one that is so evil and so cunning he makes the image of Dorian Gray seem perfect even though at the end of the novel or movie we realize that each act of reflects on your soul and with each sin that is committed the portrait reflects it in his face as his disfigurement of form is not just a sign of aging but in this case creates the evil within the person whose image has greatly changed. Author Justin Kramon takes readers inside the mind of a killer so delusional he believes his end justifies the means. The ending is so powerful and the lives of many are at stake. When the cold hard facts come crashing down on Julia just who will be there to rescue her from the chill as she races the clock hoping to safe her own life? One man can be compared to Dr. Jekyll and the other so easily transformed to Mr. Hyde. Which one you won’t find out until you read this outstanding novel and hopefully will learn that images are deceiving, safety in numbers is vital and preservation comes at a really high price. Possessions: when is it time to move on and let go?
Fran Lewis: reviewer