Monday, April 14, 2008

Fragments by Jeffry W. Johnston

Before this novel begins the main character, Chase, was in a car accident where he was the only survivor. Everyone wants answers as to how he managed to walk away unscratched, but he doesn't seem to remember anything about the accident. The novel then details his search for answers. It seems, though, that life only creates more problems for Chase as he deals with the aftermath of an unsuccessful suicide attempt, a new relationship with an outcast, and the return of his brother - the family's black sheep. As flashes of the fatal accident come to Chase, he tries to sort out what it all means, along with why he keeps revisiting scenes from his past.

The title of this novel fits because it's very fragmented. You get scenes here and there in his daily life. A moment at school, then at home, and next at the therapist only to do it over again. Things happen in the novel without being fully explained, which I suppose plays into the fragmented feeling Chase is going through. You are on the journey of discovery with him and only the important aspects of the trip are highlighted in the novel. We never fully figure out what happens in the accident even though he manages to remember most of what happens, it's still a little unclear of how falls out of the car. The subplot of his time with his brother Ben turns out to be really interesting especially when the truth comes out. Chase has a few mental issues, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is illustrated wonderfully and repressed memories - not just in regards to the accident. He is a rather complex and intriguing character and, even though the novel feels fragmented, the author does a good job of allowing the reader to feel the sense of discovery and enlightenment that Chase feels.

The novel in and of itself is okay. The choppy nature of the story makes me want more, especially since there's a lot of plain dialogue with nothing else happening. The ending with the revelations makes up for it, though. The truth, even though a little left field, blows your mind and then you understand why Chase is the way he is. It's a really quick read and worth a shot.

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