Fragmented by Eliza Lentzski is a psychological thriller that shows no matter how much we want to bolt the door on our past, something always comes out to threaten the life and love we have built in spite of it.
All Harper Dawkins wants is to be normal. Blend in to the crowd. And she has gone to great lengths to make this possible. She moved out of state to attend college, dropped her accent, cut off all contact with former friends and family, and doesn’t reveal too much about herself in this new life she has created. Then, she meets Raleigh, a young and beautiful woman who captures Harper’s attention. Despite wanting to know Raleigh better, Harper is resistant for the same reason she doesn’t share a lot of herself with her friends. But Raleigh is persistent, as only a girl who survived a car crash and confined to a wheelchair can be. She goes after Harper and doesn’t take any of her crap. For the first time Harper believes there is a bright future ahead of her, one that doesn’t involve the possibility of ending up in an institution for the mentally insane.
But when a call from Memphis brings Harper back home, her normal existence begins to unravel. Strange phone calls from a woman named Rose, a woman no one else believes exist, has Harper worried that her fears of becoming like her mother are about to come to fruition. And it’s not long before she realizes that while you may be able to divorce yourself from your past, you can’t run away from yourself.
Lentzski’s characters are always perfectly smart and perfectly flawed in their creation. In Fragmented, she introduces us to two women, each dealing with specific handicaps. Harper has personal experience with the mental aspect because her mother was committed with mental illness when Harper was a child. Raleigh is dealing with the physical aspect, having survived a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Having two characters dealing with two different types of handicaps allows a juxtaposition between them. Lentzski illustrates how each condition effects each woman, personally and publicly, and how they can help each other come to terms about the future.
When we meet Harper, she is closed off to the world. She gives minimal details about who she is and where she’s from, and when she does give details they are often lies. By doing this, she hides the possible truth of who she might become, much like mental illness can hide for years. Her actions make her very isolated, yet she feels that is safer than having people find out her history and suddenly change how they interact with her. Then, she meets Raleigh, a young woman who is in a wheelchair. A young woman who has dealt with her own struggles of her new reality and has reached a point of acceptance that Harper has not. Even though her handicap is physical, she understands Harper’s need to hide. So, she indulges Harper’s resistance to reveal too much, and in return she is able to gain Harper’s trust. Together both women are able to find a way to live with the inevitable future that may or may not happen and help each other find acceptance with themselves through the love they develop for each other.
The Writing Style
There is a fine line to walk when a story focuses on mental illness and physical handicaps. The author must find a balance on how much to portray and how to integrate it into the story effectively. If the author gives excessive information on the condition, the story starts to read like a medical journal. Give too little information, and the reader begins to question the validity of its impact on the story begin with. Through Harper and Raleigh, Lentzski gives poise between the two conditions. She allows the reader to absorb the information through Harper’s insecurity and Raleigh’s wit. The reader is not flooded with unwanted information and medical terminology; therefore, they don’t lose track of the story and will recognize the importance of each condition as it is integrated into the lives of these women.
I can always tell when an author does research on her subject because I’m able to learn new things that I would never consider as a possibility. It’s obvious that Lentzski was able to achieve that here with certain descriptions during the love scenes between Harper and Raleigh. Raleigh explains to Harper that when she lost the feeling in her legs, a lot of the sensitivity and erogenous zones located in them were dispersed to other areas of her body. Most authors would have a character mention it but not execute the truth of the statement. Lentzski stays true to her description, and also makes it very alluring to watch Harper and Raleigh navigate new territory to initiate physical pleasure with each other.
Harper does come off as unlikeable at the beginning. However, as I learned more about who Harper is, where she came from, and her fear of the unknown, I was able to understand her actions more acutely. As she reveals more and more about herself and her family, I felt more empathy for her and was vindicated for feeling as such when I reached the end.
This book is very smart in its portrayal of the physical and mental handicaps that afflict many people today. Not only does Lentzski handle them beautifully, she throws in a romance between two women who are determined to beat the odds on pre-conceived notions about limitations, choosing instead to live and love without restrictions. There’s also a nice mystery with this woman, Rose, that has you guessing until the final reveal. Is on Harper is going crazy or is someone making her believe she is for their own personal gain? Pick up Fragmented today to find out. Read it for the romance, stay for the intrigue.
Excerpt from Fragmented by Eliza Lentzski
[Raleigh] was waiting outside of my classroom after my first class the next morning. I looked around, nearly convinced that she couldn’t have been waiting for me. It was disorienting to see her even though I knew she had classes every day like myself.
I wanted to ignore her, to shoulder my bag and briskly walk past her faster than her self-propulsion could go, but my curiousity won out. “How did you find me?”
Her hands were on her lap. “I asked Kelley if she knew what your Tuesday class schedule was. She said she thought you had a business class this morning, so I looked at the course schedule online and guessed. I waited outside of three other classrooms before I guessed right.”
“Didn’t you have class this morning?”
“Sure, but finding you was more important,” she dismissed.
Her determination to see me made me uneasy, but also a little flattered…
“Raleigh,” I frowned, “you can’t miss classes because of me.”
“If you don’t have lunch with me I’ll keep skipping,” she threatened.
“I prefer the word ‘leverage.’”
I tugged on my hair in frustration. “Fine,” I gave in. “One lunch, but that’s it.”
She smiled like she’d already won.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781506131290
Eliza Lentzski Online
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