|Submitted by Sarah Mankowski|
(Feb 16, 2001)
If you were a fan of the old "Twilight Zone" television series, or if you simply enjoy modern fantasy, make room on your reading list for Touched by first-time novelist Linda Armstrong-Miller. As the story opens, we're introduced to Dr. Mat Green. It's his first night on call as an intern in a program that was obviously not his preference. He has little sympathy for the elderly patients who are going to die anyway. He can't save them, so what's the point? But his resentment goes far beyond his patients. He thinks that the doctors and nurses actually want to see him fail. This is one angry young man. Although Mat would prefer to have nothing to do with the elderly black woman called Grandma, who is unexpectedly transferred into his care, he can't escape her haunting eyes or the suspicion that she knows too much about his past. But it's not possible that Grandma could know about the childhood trauma that has scarred his personality. As you might expect, Mat cannot escape Grandma for long, and soon finds himself forced to confront the painful memories. Through Grandma, he embarks upon a journey of self-discovery, one that takes him beyond his own painful memories, to a town from the past and indo the lives of others who have known great suffering. What I liked best about this novel was the author's empathy for the characters. She shows us that Dr. Green is a deeply wounded man who cannon heal others until he, himself, begins to heal emotionally. While the story touches upon many types of conflict -- racial biases, treatment of the elderly, and various degrees of abuse and family dysfunction -- the author consistently shows great understanding for the complexities of human relationships. Her characters are the walking wounded, and she treats them with a gentleness that could only come from Grandma. Read this novel, you will be touched.