Can you hear me? Do you understand what I am saying to you? Are you still here or are you somewhere drifting away from reality? Coma is the central theme of this book as we meet Frank and Cassie both in different stages or states of coma. Coma is not easy to comprehend especially when the word has been defined as someone who is sleeping in such a state that they are not paying attention to the world outside or around them. It has nothing to do with sleep. Someone in a coma is unconscious and hears voices around them, won’t respond to sounds or any activity happening in close proximity to themselves but they are till alive and their brains are functioning at its lowest stage of awareness. The person cannot be awakened and in this case the coma of the Cassie Jensen whom we will meet as we learn about her before her hit and run accident will caused by a series injury to her head with affected her brain with swelling on the brain that Mr. Sharma the doctor in charge has stated. Frank the man in the bed opposite her had a stroke and although the nurses and doctors think he is not with it or does not realize what is happening they are wrong and Mr. Sharma’s diagnosis is off base. Although he appears to be non-responsive and able to speak he is quite aware of his surroundings and what others are relating about him and Cassie. He cannot speak because if he did he would warn everyone that someone is out to kill or hurt Cassie but who? Jack and his mother Charlotte want visitors limited since Jonny their neighbor was arrested for the hit and run and tried to get into the ward to see Cassie. They are afraid he might come back now that he’s out on bail. Alice is the ward nurse and the nurse manager and she wonders if Frank is more astute and understands more as she thinks his reflexes are more than involuntary. She truly cares about her patients and talks to them hoping to get a response. Alice confided in Frank and at times she spoke to Cassie yet she wondered what Cassie was thinking and the others thought that the child she was carrying might not be Jack’s but belong to someone else. Alice also has a secret as do all of the characters and then we meet Luce, Frank’s daughter who promises to come more often and although some think he’s in a vegetative state they are wrong. Married to David, Alice seems more prone to be at work than hurrying home from ward 9B. Frank’s illness is from too much alcohol abuse and Cassie from a hit and run but pasts come to the present and lies and betrayals will come out. Even Jack’s mother holds a secret only shared with Cassie before she went into a coma and is locked within her. Did she tell her about Mike, Jack’s father for a reason? Cassie is in danger but no one knows from whom except Frank but will something within him change before it’s too late as the police are still looking into what really happened to her and who caused her to become in a coma. Both Cassie and Frank are in a special ward that focuses on their individual needs yet we hear the voices of many of the nurses who seem caring but some speculate on who Cassie really is, her past dealing with the media and the kind of person they suppose she might be. Some positives and a lot of negatives as the prime focus is on Jack and feeling that he might have been duped or lied to when marrying her. Jack and Charlotte visit Cassie and bring things from home and hang pictures to help her recall her life and hopefully when and if she awakens it will job her memory. Talking to the patient, reading, music and even TV can help.
Frank’s thoughts are locked inside of him and Cassie we are not sure as she has only presented her life before the accident and we are beginning to get to know her and the fact that her relationship with Jack does not seem as tight as it was in the beginning. He’s focused more on work, she volunteers to help Charlotte at an event selling her jams and other foods having Jonny there to help her set up. But, when she feels sick and needs someone to help her why not lean on Charlotte why call for Jonny?
Secrets come out as Alice learns more about Cassie and Jack’s relationship and we learn about a betrayal that caused Cassie to want to take time away from Jack and her marriage. But, something is revealed about the time of her hit and run and the fact they claim she was running after her dog but what was she really running from and from whom or what?
Frank finally blinks and maybe he will be able to communicate and save Cassie’s life but someone close to her that she trusted also betrayed her and things spiral out of control as Mr. Sharma wants to pinpoint who leaked Cassie’s presence in ward 9B to the press and why does Jack think it’s her stepfather Marcus?
Lies are very prevalent, secrets are hidden within each character but one more will be revealed before the dramatic ending is revealed. Even Alice reveals her own secret to Jess her co-worker, Charlotte and several others but why not to David, her husband?
Frank surprised everyone and was able to communicate using an Alphabet board and blinking and he was able to observe and hear the thoughts and conversations around him. Things began to fit into place and he realized just what happened between Jack and Cassie, the person that tried to kill her and the person that wanted her silenced forever. Someone close to her betrayed her and someone else could not allow the truth to come out.
With safeguards in a hospital and the nurses in Ward 9 overworked someone did not see the obvious and ignored what was about to happen. Murder is something that hospitals do not want to bring to light but the ending will startle readers, as lives are lost, hopes for happiness deteriorated and one girl named Cassie whose voice we only hear as the truth behind why she wanted to leave comes out. Cassie does not speak when she’ in a coma and the final scene that the author shares is quite compelling and will bring tears to the reader’s eyes. A strong story filled with hope, love, faith, betrayal, hospital politics, drama, and one nurse named Alice whose allegiance to her patients was above and beyond the call of duty and more.
Told from the perspective of Frank and his views and thoughts, Alice and her fears, trepidations and wanting to keep her own secret silent and one girl named Cassie who just wanted to be happily married and have a child and feel loved. Marcus her stepfather is an interesting character that was often misjudged and her mother April would have been proud of her had she lived. Definitely a book that will help others understand what some patients think and hear when in a coma and the skills and caring that nurses perform each day to help keep them alive.
Sometimes we need to listen to those that are silent that are communicating with us in their own way. Frank, George, and the others were special and their lives lost to medical and other reasons. Cassie’s voice is heard before she was hit and you the reader decide what would you think about her IF YOU KNEW HER?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine