Samantha James is a psychologist at Typhlos, a Manhattan mental institution. Even though she appears to have a great life—both professionally and personally—the shameful truth is that Samantha—or Sam, as she prefers to be called—is a mess in more ways than one. She’s an alcoholic with an abusive boyfriend she refuses she leave because she’s convinced she can help him. That’s what Sam does—she tries to save everyone—and she does have the highest success rate with the toughest patients at Typhlos—but she can’t seem to save herself from the wreck her life has become. She manages to hide it at work, until she takes over the care of a patient named Richard, a man no one else can help because he refuses to speak about why he’s there, or even assist with getting the necessary paperwork filled out. Sam is determined to get him talking and find out why he is there… even as the facade of her ‘perfect’ life begins to unravel.
Brady’s debut introduces us to a woman on the brink of disaster thanks to her (unacknowledged) demons stemming from childhood abuse. Sam is beautifully flawed in so many ways, and tries so hard to keep it together that it almost breaks your heart. In Richard, we are given an enigmatic character whose reticence constantly exasperated Sam and hindered her efforts to help him. Over time, it became clear that he had a hidden agenda behind his admission to Typhlos, and it kept me reading for longer stretches than I may have otherwise, in hopes of discovering what that agenda might be.
The story is well-written and kept me engaged, but I have to admit the ending left me feeling a bit frustrated. The story reached a climactic point before the final chapter, but there was no delving into [the thing that happened] and ending the story on a satisfying note. The short chapter that ended the story felt more like an epilogue, the inferred promise of a reveal fizzling out in favor of a quick wrap-up. It’s not that the ending doesn’t work at all—it does—and to be honest, I already knew what was coming regarding that reveal. Still… it was a disappointing ending for me. That may not be the case for other readers, but that’s how I felt.
Despite the lackluster ending, I enjoyed reading this story. I think Brady shows a lot of promise as a writer, all the more so because of her background as a psychologist, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of her work in the future!
About the Book
With the intensity and rawness of Girl, Interrupted and Luckiest Girl Alive comes this razor-sharp debut, which reveals how one woman can go so far off the deep end, she might never make it back up
Sam James has spent years carefully crafting her reputation as the best psychologist at Typhlos, Manhattan’s most challenging psychiatric institution. She boasts the highest success rates with the most disturbed patients, believing if she can’t save herself, she’ll save someone else. It’s this savior complex that serves her well in helping patients battle their inner demons, though it leads Sam down some dark paths and opens her eyes to her own mental turmoil.
When Richard, a mysterious patient no other therapist wants to treat, is admitted to Typhlos, Sam is determined to unlock his secrets and his psyche. What she can’t figure out is why does Richard appear to be so completely normal in a hospital filled with madness? And what, really, is he doing at the institution? As Sam gets pulled into Richard’s twisted past, she can’t help but analyze her own life, and what she discovers terrifies her. And so the mind games begin. But who is the savior and who is the saved?
In this unexpected and addictive psychological debut, A.F. Brady takes readers into the psyche of a deeply disturbed woman desperately trying to keep her head above water, showing that sometimes what’s most terrifying is what exists in your mind.
About the Author
A.F. BRADY is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Psychotherapist. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and two Masters degrees in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. She is a life-long New Yorker, and resides in Manhattan with her husband and their family. The Blind is her first novel.