Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thaw by Monica M Roe

Dane was on top of his game, on top of his world. He wins nordic skiing competitions with calculated casualness (taking side trips along the way) and doesn't appreciate the effort others need to put into the sport to achieve less. Dane contracts Guillain-Barré syndrome and his life turns upside down. Suddenly, it takes effort to speak. He can't move or feed himself, and he has little patience for those who do it for him. Dane has calculated the likelihood of his full recovery as high, based on the research he had his girlfriend, now ex-girlfriend, gather for him. Dane assesses his future options and figures he needs few of the people in the Florida rehab center and must connect with even less.

Dane is a product of his emotionally abusive father and emotionally absent mother. They placed him in the Florida site because of it's credentials, and the convenience of not needing to visit him frequently - too disruptive for their lifestyles. Dane's father expects to see him once he's up and walking again. Dane is emotionally frozen and thinks he needs no one and strives for perfection constantly. His pressure to succeed is both internal and from his father who spends no time with his children that is not productive.

It is interesting to have the first-person perspective of a male character going through so much of an emotional journey about his physical disease and challenges, family relations, internal pressures to succeed and friendships. Dane's life before GBS is told in flashbacks. The writing is good, but editing missed one detail early on: the therapist deliberately pulled down the shade to try and refocus Dane's attention on P 16. Once she leaves, Dane is looking out the window again, but there is no mention of how he can now see out - he is still paralyzed.

I am not convinced of Dane's father's turnaround following the visit. What would prompt his change of expectations? The mother is largely absent - sort of a pale and insignificant archetype. I am interested in having discussions about this one for TU and in the context of a contribution to teen lit - MAYBE


Elizabeth Norton said...

I am a hard NAY on this one. I have no compassion for Dane whatsoever and was totally turned off by the way that he treated other people, especially his girlfriend.

Katie said...

I'm a YAY for this. I felt that Dane's character flaws were so well defined that they did make it hard to feel much compassion for him, but it was how deeply real his character felt that gave the book a lot of meat. I also appreciated that there wasn't a tidy ending, but a certain hopefulness trying to displace his resignation.