Monday, April 6, 2009

Thaw by Monica Roe

Well not like... ever in my life. But ever on this blog. So yaaaaaaaaaaay!

Thaw by Monica Roe

Thaw is the chilly story of Dane Rafferty, a star skier, model son, budding intellectual, laid-back boyfriend and a new victim of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Dane thought nothing could knock him off his skis until this inexplicable disease takes him down. Now, Dane finds himself completely paralyzed. However the disease reverses itself and 75% of patients make a full recovery. Now all Dane can do is wait and work his way out of paralysis as his body repairs itself little by little.

Dane recovers at a rehabilitation center in Florida filled with crazy characters including many people who are much worse off than Dane, far away from his family and friends in upstate New York. Dane has always been strong and he figures he can power his way through this new crisis in his life but soon he realizes that his recovery will be far from easy.

This story sparkles with descriptive language, witty dialogue, cutthroat emotion and the strong physical sense of a world so different from most of our own experiences. Author Monica Roe works as a physical therapist and her first hand knowledge of the recovery process for people with neurological disorders so that the therapy session, triumphs and set-backs feel very real. There is something to appeal to every reader such as medical drama, romance, gritty sports competitions and nature discoveries.

Even with the first person point of view Dane is not an easy character to like. As soon as he can talk he is barking orders at his well-meaning nurse, Letitia and rudely refusing to listen to his tough physical therapist Anya. It isn't until occupational therapist Joel enters the scene that the reader sees Dane might have an ounce of caring in his body, though he tries hard not to show it.

As the novel evolves day by day we see Dane's struggles and also get a glimpse into Dane's life before the accident, when he was on top of the world, king of his domain. Dane is a highly talented and intelligent guy but he doesn't have much time for people and their messy emotions. As he has to rely on others to do the simplest of daily activities, Dane's tolerance level begins to change.

The book relies on it's intriguing cast of characters along with Dane's believable narration to pull the reader through this difficult journey of recovery, healing and self-discovery. The dynamic between Dane and Joel is one of the highlights of the book especially with Joel being such a fun person in the midst of all the pain and struggle around him. Sometimes the dialogue in the book doesn't ring true, although it is fun to read. Dane finds a sparring partner in 16-year-old Carrisa, the daughter of a coma patient on the floor. Right off the bat, she can match him wit-by-wit but it seems a little too convenient for Dane to find someone else his age who speaks exactly like he does.

Another highlight of the book is the nature apparent throughout the story. Dane's rehab institution is surrounded by wildlife and Dane looks fondly on the adventures he had skiing and hiking and fishing back in upstate New York. It was enjoyable to read about different species and star constellations. There was just this constant sense of place that really helped to drive the story.

Thaw is the perfect title for this novel as we see Dane's frozen existence melt and change in more ways than one. For a down-to-earth story about a jaded young man who has a long journey ahead you should check this book out.

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