Chances are, if you’ve worked at a job anywhere, you’ve encountered that odd co-worker who is out of sync with the rest of the staff. The person who doesn’t do things the same way, can’t fit into a conversation around the water cooler, and doesn’t associate with anyone on staff after work.
Bjorn, the main character in this book, is the odd person. He is meticulous in everything. His perfectionist leanings irritate the people around him. Bjorn is also obsessive-compulsive. He has a precise way he wants to work, and gets very tense when there is any deviation from the norm. One day Bjorn finds a special room that no one else seems to know about, a quiet office in perfect order. This is where Bjorn is able to concentrate and do his best work. The problem? Neither his boss nor the other workers can see this room. They say Bjorn is just standing in the hallway, staring at a section of wall.
When does a person cross the line between merely odd and totally delusional? This book really made me think about the “different” people we encounter in our everyday life. How do we treat them? We can choose to ridicule and belittle them. Or we can treat them with courtesy and dignity, and try to understand how they are seeing the world, even if we don’t agree. The choice is ours.
This is the second book on the list of personalized recommendations that I got from a librarian at my local library. It’s a suspenseful, psychological mystery.
Dana is a suburban housewife with a shaky marriage, some drinking issues, and bipolar disorder. She also battles anxiety and memory problems. Her only child is grown and has moved away, which has left her lonely and depressed. Sometimes Dana hangs out with her neighbor Celia, a foreign-language high school teacher.
The story begins with Dana waking from a drunken stupor on her couch, and hearing sirens outside. As she staggers outside to see what is happening, she finds out that Celia has been murdered at home. Dana remembers visiting her friend that day, and that they fought about something, but her mind is fuzzy. Mental anguish builds as she begins to suspect that she may have killed her own friend, but she can’t remember committing the crime.
Although the basic story-line is nothing unique, the psychological terror that builds in Dana is what really propels the story along. I do have to say that I figured out “who dunnit” before the murderer was revealed. There was a bit of language in the book, but all in all, it was a fast-paced, interesting read.
She’d been coming into my work place for some time. She was short, about the same age as me, and was always bundled up in a long coat. I would greet her with a smile, ask her how she was, but she would generally not speak. Occasionally she would smile and give a slight nod of the head. After a while, she would walk out the front door as quietly as she had entered.
On January 21, the local news reported her missing. Police found her purse on the ground, with footprints leading away and ending at the river. A search was conducted, but she was not found. For the first time, I knew her name: Kimberly. In the news article, Kimberly’s sister said that she suffered from schizophrenia and did not have her medication. Many of us prayed that Kimberly would be found alive somewhere, but yesterday, nearly two months after she was reported missing, her body was found in the river.
There are so many around us that suffer from illnesses of the mind, schizophrenia being just one of them. Most often we can’t do a lot to help them, but we can at least smile, say hello, be gracious, and pray for them. Treating people with kindness and dignity is the least we can do, as we were all made in the image of God.
Rest in peace, Kimberly.
Stories about Kimberly:
Sam is just an ordinary guy that wants to fit in and have everyone forget that he’s the pastor’s kid. Jennifer is a girl suffering from schizophrenia whom Sam saves from a group of bullies. From that point on, Sam is her best friend and hero.
The story is told alternately from Sam’s and Jennifer’s point of view. Both of them struggle with their fears and demons. The phrase “do right – fear not” pops up many times throughout the story. There is much for them to fear, both from people they can see and presences they cannot see. Sam makes some bad decisions, and then struggles with how to get himself out of the situation. The story reminds us that we’ll encounter spiritual warfare in life, but have to keep struggling to do what’s right.
The book would be great for a discussion group. There are some suggested questions by the author at the end of the book.
Jennifer dropped her voice and leaned toward me. “I said your name last night,” she confided to me as if it were her great secret.
“You…what? What do you mean?”
“I said your name,” she repeated, even softer than before. “When the demons came to my house.” …
“Demons, huh?” I said. I hoped maybe Jennifer was making some kind of joke, but I didn’t really think she was. “You get those a lot around your place?”
She nodded. “They come in at night. When no one else can see them. They change everything.”