Searching for Sanity

Review of “Where is She Now” by Nina Sankovitch,

December 15, 2009
Frances Gilbert’s “Where Is She Now” is a stunning psychological thriller that probes the lucidity contained within madness, and the fear that rides along when trauma suppresses knowledge.  Rosemary is a young woman who may have witnessed a crime or she may have participated in it: she cannot remember as her memory is fogged both by prescribed drugs and by her own terror of discovering the truth. She is a woman fighting to hold onto her sanity and protect her child; she is a pawn in a power struggle between her mother and her husband; she is a visionary who sees past wrongs, and struggles to restore balance in her universe.
Deemed crazy by some, pitiable by others, and gifted by just a few, Rosemary as presented to the reader is all of these and much more: she is a woman alone fighting demons from within and without.  Can I believe her?  Is she crazy or horribly sane? I became enthralled with her as I read on, and increasingly saddened by her situation. Rosemary’s loneliness and confusion is heartbreaking, as are her efforts to find guidance and companionship in made-up characters and anthropomorphized objects.  When Rosemary finds herself witnessing infanticide from centuries past, I shuddered for her; when she found unexpected alliance in her struggle, I hoped for her.
Gilbert’s writing is lyrical and clear.  She does an excellent job portraying the fear and anxiety of someone shaken to the core by trauma, by guilt, and by helplessness in the face of very real danger.  Gilbert takes her time creating Rosemary and her space in the world. Slowly, details accumulate and surely, the reader is drawn into the mystery of Rosemary’s child, the question of Rosemary’s sanity or insanity, and the struggle for Rosemary’s survival.
The final unraveling of the truth is unexpected, believable, and riveting.  Kindness comes in the form of strangers while treachery begins at home.  Where Is She Now left me gasping and roiling, breathless and blown away.  This is a wonderful novel.