Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dahlia's Gone

Mia is still running a fever. Ibuprofen brings it down, but as soon as it wears off, it spikes up again. She's watching Lady & the Tramp II while curled up under my Aunt Alma's blanket. Alma is pronounced Elmee, and she was my great-great aunt. The heavy quilt passed from my grandma to my father, and when I was a little girl it was the one blanket I always wanted covering me because I knew it would make me better. It was a talisman of sorts for me. Just last month, my dad gave me the quilt, and now my little girl gets to use it. It's over 100 years old and looks it. There are some stains, lots of wear, and the colors are faded, but Mia feels better using it, and I feel comforted watching her little chest rise and fall beneath it.

Last weekend I read a book about rheumatoid arthritis and treatment options. It was an eye-opening experience for me. While I may have it worse than some, I'm far better off than others, and there are still plenty of treatments I can look into. It's a true gift to find the right mix of medications and a doctor who wants to help. It was a major step for me to recognize that this disease isn't just going to go away, now the next step is to acknowledge that I need help, and I can't do it alone. This illness has taught me so many things: humility, compassion, giving up control. I'm truly not the person I was three years ago. I like to think that that's a good thing and that this is just one more way of God refining my rough edges to become the person he created me to be.

Dahlia's Gone by Katie Estill is the story of three women trying to cope with the brutal murder of a young woman within their midst. Norah asks her neighbor Sand to watch over her son Timothy and step-daughter Dahlia while going on vacation with her husband. While checking up on the teens, Sand finds Dahlia's body, and Patti steps in to investigate the girl's death. The murderer is never truly in doubt, so the suspense comes from waiting for the truth to come out and be accepted by the main characters. Norah and Sand are each superficial and self-righteous in their own ways, making them hard to empathize with. Patti is just downright odd. The narration in her chapters is almost stream of consciousness making it hard to follow at times. Estill creates some intriguing characters, but there are too many plot points that dribble off into nothing. Why was Sand at the doctor? What are Sand and her husband going to do with the ghostfish? What's with Merlee's dad's teeth? The relationship between Sand and her husband was passionate and strong enough to carry its own book; but the few instances here are wasted. The best suspense in the book comes at the tailend when Norah's actions come into question, but the resolution seems awkward. One other quibble with the book: the representation of the church in the book seems extremely prejudice and biased. The writing seems as though the writer was reaching for higher themes that unfortunately were beyond her grasp.

I hate writing poor reviews; I try not to do it unless I really have to. As a writer, I know that it would be devastating to read someone picking apart my book, but at the same time, if I only write good reviews, I think I lose credibility.


Jenny D said...


My name is Jenny and I am part of an online community called CarePlace, for people experiencing similar health related issues and their caregivers, including Rheumatoid Arthritis. We have recently added new Rheumatoid Arthritis related communities to the site.

As your blog relates to what we are doing at CarePlace, I was wondering if you might be willing to check out our site and let me know if you think it might be helpful to the people who communicate through and with you. People can join multiple communities, share experiences, check out info on medical conditions and treatments and form their own groups within the site.
We have gotten great feedback and as you know the more people in various communities the more outreach and support that happens. Our users have really liked it so far and we are adding new features all the time based on what everyone is telling us.

It’s really important to us to get feedback from people like you about the site as we develop features – the site is You can add me as a friend (jend) and let me know what you think.
Thanks in advance!

Jenny (jend)