The Nearly Girl is a quirky exploration into people’s peculiarities and is absolutely riveting to read.
Amelia, the novel’s young protagonist, signs up for group therapy to assuage her teenage angst; she feels like an outcast and just yearns to be normal. Like most young adults, Amelia thinks she has been marred by her parent’s foibles. Her father, Henry, is an acclaimed, outré poet with preternaturally dark tendencies and her mother, Megan, is an aloof, withdrawn woman who shirks all parental responsibilities—finding solace in suntan booths and the gym instead.
In the group, Amelia meets a motley crew of characters with a panoply of idiosyncrasies: an obsessive hoarder, someone with anger management issues, a business entrepreneur who can’t speak in public, etc. To overcome their issues, Dr Frances Carroll, the group’s unorthodox psychotherapist, urges them to D.T.O.T (Do The Opposite Thing). Like the chorus of a song, D.T.O.T becomes the group’s mantra—their incantation. Rather than helping them, however, D.T.O.T turns out to have very deleterious, even deathly effects. The novel culminates when Dr Carroll’s true colours start splattering off the pages like a Jackson Pollock painting: Chaos! Bedlam! Insanity! The climax of the book, these thrilleresque scenes are wildly entertaining and incredibly intoxicating. Discovering why Dr. Carroll has become so unhinged is also adrenaline, swift page-pumping stuff.
To survive Dr Carroll’s twisted plot and persona, Amelia—ironically—will have to harness and embrace her unique traits. To successfully pull it off, she’ll also need the love and support of her zany family and friends.
While therapy is typically designed to help people sort out their feelings, The Nearly Girl questions—might even mock—said practice. Ultimately, The Nearly Girl finds strength in her own perceived weaknesses. Everyone should nearly be as lucky.
This has been a guest review by Sheryl Gordon, curator of the book A Rewording Life. To learn more about Sheryl and her popular book, please visit: http://www.arewordinglife.com
The Miramichi Reader interview with Sheryl: https://miramichireader.ca/2015/12/sheryl-gordon-interview/