The Nearly Girl
by Lisa de Nikolits
on Tour November 2016
Fans of “A Prayer for Owen Meany” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” will love this clever, fast-paced and enjoyable thriller.
Like a modern-day Joan of Arc, Amelia Fisher attempts to carve out a ‘normal life’, showing us how mythic the idea of ‘normal’ really is.
With a poetic genius for a father, an obsessed body builder for a mother, and an enchantingly eccentric group seeking the help of an unorthodox therapist, what could possibly go wrong?
A chance discovery propels Amelia and fellow therapy attendee, Mike, with whom she is in love, into a life-threatening situation instigated by the crazed doctor’s own dark secret but Amelia’s psychosis saves the day.
Told with warmth, humor and populated with vividly original characters, this sprint-paced novel has it all, from restraining orders to sex in office bathrooms, and a nail-biting ending. A novel about an unusual family, expected social norms and the twists and turns of getting it all slightly wrong, the consequences of which prove fatal for some.
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Lisa de Nikolits is the award-winning author of five novels. Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror won a 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award. West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick. A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched in Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and wide readership. Between The Cracks She Fell launched in Fall 2015 and was well reviewed by the Quill & Quire and was on the recommended reading lists for Open Book Toronto and 49th Shelf. Between The Cracks She Fell was also reviewed by Canadian Living magazine and called ‘a must-read book of 2015’. Between The Cracks She Fell won a Bronze IPPY Award 2016 for Contemporary Fiction. All books have been published by Inanna Publications.
The Nearly Girl
Sometimes having a normal life comes with a high price. What is normal to someone might not be the same to you as Amelia Fisher takes us back in time to understand how her parents met and why you might wonder how if she did turned out normal. Her father, Henry is a poetic genius who fell in love at first sight with her mother Megan. At first they might seem suited for each other but things change, romances fizzle out and priorities swing in a different direction. While Megan her mother insists that Henry is her perfect match discounting the times he disappears, does not show up or appears to have some type of mental disconnections, Megan her mother after giving birth to her, decided to become a bodybuilder leaving her child with her parents. Needing a mental professional to help guide this group what they get is someone unorthodox who might make it worse. Going to these meetings Amelia is being taught how to cope with life situations but instead is she is propelled into many life-threatening situations instigated by a therapist that is so outlandish, so not by the book and might cause some of the attendees to do bodily harm to themselves or others. Mike, one of the attendees is her rock and who she falls for and many who have secrets that when uncovered will either make them fall further into mental depression or finally realize that the help they are getting is detrimental to their therapy. Meeting her parents and her grandfather we learn that Henry has a strong connection to him and is able to work, cope and deal with even Amelia as long as he is around. But, life is not perfect and when he dies Henry falls deeper and deeper within himself even though his fame soars and his work becomes more well- renowned. The author brings to light the many difficulties some face when fame comes too fast, when rash decisions are made and when two people who thought they were destined to be together might find out that they are not. Twists, surprises and some consequences can prove deadly as Amelia tells her story.
When her mother tries to reason with Megan and hope that she might find her way back to Amelia, father and daughter bond, Ethel and her daughter Megan, two mothers come from two different worlds. Added in there is one character who attends therapy they commits suicide, a hoarder who commits suicide by fire or arson burning her stash or her entire apartment of stuff, and the sex in the bathroom between two attendees sends readers on a roller coaster ride wondering what will happen each time these people meet for therapy.
Everyone is different and we often find ourselves not fitting into the norm that others have created for us or for themselves. Author Lisa de Nikolitis brings to light a novel that deals with the definition of what is normal and how does one work with a therapist that is destructive yet claiming he knows best. Each one of us has our own egos; eccentricities and each one of us are different with different breaking points. As we get to know Megan better we are frustrated at her selfishness, self-absorbed behavior and her desire to be noticed, accepted and be thought of as beautiful and perfect.
Henry is an award-winning poet that Megan falls for as I said at a poetry reading. Not using any kind of judgment, not really thinking about the future or down the road she becomes obsessed with this famous yet insecure man. Forgetting her birth control pills is what sets this novel on a downward spiral for Megan and having Amelia created resentment as everyone loves her and thinks she is amazing. Making it worse she emulates her father and has many of his positive traits. Added in Henry needs medication because he hears voices, writes his poems and although ho one really comprehends his words they applaud and cheer. He is never cold, nor is Amelia, leaves at unusual times and disappears even for years. A genius or something else you the reader decide?
Amelia is a strong character that manages to battle through it all despite her parents and her life. Normal is boring, therapy might bring to light that she is normal after you meet the rest of the group. Her mother disowns her, his own parents who think him odd disown her father and they are socially correct and perfect. Hurt, fear, sadness, losing control of oneself and not really understanding who each of these characters are as individuals are what drives this plot to an unusual conclusion. Will Amelia wind up with Mike? Will she realize that her path needs to be her own? What happens when she realizes that she takes the same route everyday and decides to take a different bus but might get lost?
Without Ed, Megan’s father, Henry was lost. Dr. Carroll is completely out of his mind and Amelia was trying to find her own way. When Mike joins the family with Amelia will Megan accept him and what are his impressions of her family? Her father killed by a drunk driver. Her mother in a state of shock and Megan thinking parents don’t die they come home. Henry frightened as to who would care for him dependent on Ed to forge ahead. His own resort was to escape once more as Amelia deals with Dr. Carroll, her relationship with her mother who is now smoking again, found herself someone else that she finds interesting and has become so immersed in physical fitness to the exclusion of anything else. The ending is quite compelling and the story goes on as someone finally realizes that Amelia is THEIR NEARLY GIRL AND LOVED BUT BY WHOM?
The story will evoke many emotions of sadness, anger, frustration, tears and joy with a touch of sarcasm, humor and a hint of the unknown as the unexpected often happens just when you think you have figured it out. Where they all wind up and their fate: Read the epilogue to find out. Interesting characters and a plot that is uniquely crafted and will keep you wondering what will the ending bring.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine