A suspensive story told from the third-person limited perspective in which the protagonist, Nora, wrestles with a past trauma. Written in the present tense, a decision that heightens the urgency and suspense of the narrative, the past is revealed to Nora (and the reader) through therapy and psychotic breaks.
Sentences Worth Studying
- “Panic tightens her chest and chokes her breathing. In front of her, a girl’s face, a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been” (3).
- “She doesn’t like the smell of this room—lavender air freshener disguising grief, invisible clouds of uncertainty lingering and descending on those who sit here, infiltrating their heads and lips and words” (15).
- “For a long while, Nora waits, stock-still in the dead silence, staring at the motionless body, the belly and breasts flattened, the head turned unnaturally to the side, tangled auburn hair obscuring the eyes, nothing moving at all” (25).
- “But lately, the anxiety was creeping back in, stealing her sleep, making her hard to get along with, making her pretend things—smiling while Fiona poured Cheerios and milk into her bowl, spilling half of it all over the table, and biting her tongue when she watched the evening news with Paul, him flipping channels and cursing at Clinton’s inauguration and Albright’s confirmation as the first female secretary of state” (60).
- “She’d read hundreds of saint stories in school, and their deaths always terrified her. All the flames and burning faces and sizzling hair and hearts and heads stabbed onto stakes and screams for mercy while thousands of faces watched. There were always facing watching” (90).
- “And then David is saying things that don’t make sense. Things about stolen money and orange shoe boxes and boxes of confession, and she is trying to listen, trying to understand, but it’s all too much. Too much. Too many pieces careening through her mind, smashing reason and logic to smithereens” (108).
- “On her way to the meeting, things are magnified. Students just released from classrooms pour into the hallway, sweaty, in various moods and behaving with conspicuous nuances. Mouths open and close, and sounds come at her scratching flats and sharps. Arms wave loosely. Lockers slam. Slam over and over again, the deafening slam slam slam and she wants to clap her hands to her ears, but of course she doesn’t” (130).
- “Something ugly and huge pushes and thrashes inside Nora’s head and fury forces its way out and the enormous hand of it slaps the heart from Fiona’s tiny hand and the heart flies across the room, hits the closet, and drops to the floor” (139).
- “Nora opens her mouth. Forms a ‘No’ with her lips. Breathes hard into the ‘No.’ She hears the air moving, feels her lungs push it out, but something shoves back into her throat, and there are no words, no words, no words, no words” (161).
- “Dark rises within her. Rises and swells. Rises and gathers force and becomes fire becomes blood becomes sound and the sound forces her body out of the bed and she begins running around and around the room arm and anger flailing pounding on walls and doors mouth open wide open wide and something fierce and violent rips open her heart rips her body open until she is not a woman not a girl only a screaming mouth a screaming heart a screaming body” (195).
- “And in the haze: How much more can I take until I’m planted in a wheelchair, staring at the same spot on the floor all day, eyes flat as stamps, murmuring silvery syllables that slip away like fish into an unfathomable ocean?” (196).