I am usually reluctant to pick up a book by writers I have not heard of. One of them is Alex Michaelides. I had never heard of him but I was beginning to hear a lot about his book The Silent Patient. I had to visit my local bookstore thrice to get a copy of this book because apparently each time I went they were sold out. Then, a lot of my friends started sharing their reviews of this book. Ok, I thought, this one must be a good read.
I finally got this book, and believe you me, I was so engrossed into it, I finished it in a matter of mere hours. The Silent Patient was literally that book for me where I was literally turning pages in anticipation of what’s coming up ahead. I don’t remember doing this with a book recently (last I can remember doing this was with Gone Girl).
So the story follows one woman, Alice Berenson, who has been arrested and out in prison for murdering her husband- by shooting him five times in the head. The problem is that Alice refuses to speak about anything and so stays silent. Enters Theo Faber, a 42-year-old psychotherapist (this is where my interest deepened as we rarely see psychotherapists in mainstream fiction novels). Theo claims he got into psychotherapy because he wants to help people, which he admits is a lie, and he really got into this because he wants to help himself.
Theo arrives at the Grove, which is a hospital for patients like Alice. As a psychotherapist, he wants to speak to Alice to get through to her, because all the other doctors have failed to get Alice to speak. At The Grove, there are other doctors who question Theo’s insistence on meeting with Alice when nothing will come out of it.
Till one fine day, Alice makes eye contact with Theo and gives him a non-verbal signal about something. This is that moment that Theo knows something is up and gets down to what really happened that fateful night and why Alice isn’t speaking up.
I won’t spoil the rest of the book because it something you have to experience for yourself.
Much like Gone Girl and other similar books, the book switches between Theo’s narrative and Alice’s diary entries. This makes for a riveting read as we are not caught up with one narrative. The break and change break the monotony of the story. The writer has written well enough to get us to turn the pages fast! The book is fast-paced, engaging, thrilling and utterly compelling!
The ending, oh my God, what an ending it was!
The ending of the book was something that I totally didn’t see coming. It felt like a punch in my gut. It felt like a huge slap, a wake-up call– and I found myself questioning why I couldn’t figure out the ending. It is an ending I will remember for a long time. It is an ending that will flip everything upside down and show you how nothing is impossible.
This goes to show that we have a brilliant writer in Alex Michaelides. I am totally looking forward to his next books (and also telling myself to take a chance with these new writers coming up!)