the hand of T. Greenwood's Indie Brown, we are thrown inside the
sadness and elusiveness of a family dealing with Munchausen syndrome
by proxy (disorders that cause sufferers to induce illness in themselves
and in others). We are pulled into the story from the very beginning
with the memory of Indie as a four-year-old being struck by lightning
while sitting outside in a shopping cart. As an adult, Indie is
living in a small town in Maine with her mate, Peter, but there
is always something pulling her downperhaps the unanswered
questions of childhood she can never seem to let go. A call in the
middle of the night sends her reeling into a past she'd much rather
forget. Her mother is ill again. Is it self-inflicted?
Soon after returning to Arizona,
Indie realizes her sister, Lilythe younger one, the prettier
one, the favored oneis struggling with her own issues from
the past. Lily's infant daughter is ill and contained to an oxygen
tent; a mysterious illness has already plagued her life. Through
well-written flashbacks the reader is shown Indie's brother Bennie,
her beautiful brother; she always wished he could be the same as
other boys his age. Her father, her protectorhe never seemed
to be around much. Who is to blame for the sickness and pain Indie
is dealing with? The pain is realized through the life of her sister,
the illness of her mother, and the thoughts that motivate her own
decisions and define her as a woman.
Indie Brown's childhood memories
paint disturbed pictures in our mind; they leave a mark on our hearts
that most of us do not truly understand. Her memories are glimpses
in the dark room paved by childhood terror.
Beautifully written, author
T. Greenwood exposes her characters but seems carefully distant.
Though her attention to detail is magnificent, she leaves the reader
hungry for the real meat of the story. Like looking through a foggy
glass window, the reader can witness pain, see the sickness that
the family has endured, but through the foggy window empathy is
impossible. We are left wanting more. We are left to ask what really
The reader deals with wicked
reflections of a child on a bathroom floor, her mother hovering
over her. We are sweetened by memories of Indie's brother and trips
to the creek in the summer and learn to love Indie's father as she
craves the attention too much of which he can never give. We are
struck by the apparent inequities her mother creates in the life
of her young children. With the reader watching from behind, Indie
Brown begins to question her life, her relationship with Peter,
and most of all the peace for which she has always yearned. How
much of the mystery of her childhood is still alive in her life
without her comprehension?
The story begins to end on its
own as Indie is finally ready to return home with the reality of
her sister's sickness still alive in the pit of her stomach. The
things she has grown to love and expect from Peter, now come into
question. But what does one have to do with another? Ms. Greenwood
never lets us know. Without us Indie comes to a realization about
her childhood and her life with Peter which we are left to figure
Ms. Greenwood has the talent,
the characters, the setting for a truly compelling story, but fails
to deliver the goods as she tiptoes around the heart of her work.
Her voice craves the opportunity to resonate within the pages but
just keeps missing the mark. It ends too quietly. The characters
in Nearer Than the Sky
aren't given much life or light; we
see them left behind as the story continues to be told.
Nearer Than the Sky
our hearts through well-written dialogue and articulated flashbacks,
but doesn't allow us inside to see for ourselves. We've seen these
characters endure and deserve closure, an ending to the saga of
which we have somehow become a part.