One Last Song
By: S. K. Falls
Author’s Website: http://www.skfalls.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
I was seven when I swallowed my first needle.
My mom freaked out and rushed me to the emergency room.
She stayed by my side all night.
I never wanted it to end.
When you spend your whole life feeling invisible-when your parents care more about deals and deadlines than they do about you-you find ways of making people take notice. Little things at first. Then bigger. It’s scary how fast it grows. Then one day something happens that makes you want to stop. To get better. To be better. And for the first time, you understand what it’s like to feel whole, happy . . . loved. For the first time, you love someone back.
For me, that someone was Drew.
This story grabbed my attention from the very beginning and would not let go. Saylor is a young woman with issues; many, many issues. She has Munchausen syndrome, which is a psychiatric factitious disorder where she will feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to her. Saylor was required to withdraw from college during the second semester and has now returned to her dysfunctional family home. She is living with a mother who has withdrawn and is forever working on building miniature dollhouses and a workaholic father. In one of the opening segments, Saylor is meeting a new psychiatrist – Dr. Stone. During their session, when Dr. Stone asks:
“If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?”
Saylor indicates she would like to volunteer at the hospital. Already as a reader I am thinking….NOT a good idea. But the psychiatrist goes along with the suggestion (even encourages it). Saylor’s volunteer assignment is to set up and take down the meeting rooms for different support groups. Three weeks in and she has set up one room for the TIDD (terminal illness and degenerative diseases) group. To pass time, Saylor picked up a book on MS. In walks Drew. As a result of reading the book, Drew incorrectly assumes Saylor is waiting to participate in the group and she has MS, and the lie is born. Saylor meets the major characters from the group:,
Andrew Dean (known as Drew) –FA – Friedreich’s ataxi – a degenerative disease;
Carson – T-PLL – a kind of leukemia;
Pierce – AIDS;
Zee – Breast cancer; and
Jack – cancer – currently with encephalitis (brain infection)-too sick to attend meetings.
For the first time in what seems like forever, Saylor is bonding with this group of young adults and she feels like she fits in. Quickly they include her in the outings the group takes. Slowly, a bonds form between Saylor and each of the group members. However, the bond between Saylor and Drew is a slowly developing romance. Given Saylor’s lonely home life, I truly rooted for these bonds to develop. My only concern was that they had been developed as a result of a lie and that can lead to no good.
Slowly the romance develops and at one point during a heartfelt discussion the following poignant conversation takes place:
“Do you think you’ll get married someday?” Drew’s eyes were far away. He was looking toward the bridal party, but, it seemed to me, not quite seeing them. “I don’t know”, I said, fiddling with my gloves. “I haven’t really thought about it. What about you?” He replied without hesitation. “No. I refuse to leave my would-be wife a young widow.” “Some might say having a few years of true love is better than having none,” I said. “And anyway,” he continued, as if I hadn’t spoken, “I’m not going to die around people I know.”
This whole dialogue got to me….Saylor and Drew discussing the future and how he would approach it given his terminal disease. Whew, very heavy scene.
The emotions and friendships that develop are real, and as the reader, I cringed knowing that at some point in time this would all blow up for Saylor. It is especially heart-wrenching as you experience the progression of the love that develops between her and Drew.
The family dynamics surrounding Saylor had a few twists, which I did not expect which certainly added another dimension to the story, in an intriguing way. I must say that the depth of the story on many levels is what kept me engaged. I essentially read this story in a couple of days….could not put it down!
I enjoyed Saylor’s conniving with her father and another lawyer to get things done for the TIDD group (Jack specifically with respect to the ‘right to die’ issue). I felt this showed her depth of caring for the group. Her shopping spree with Zee was priceless. The comradery when the group is out at Sphinx – a local restaurant/bar is noteworthy considering the length of time all members of the group have known each other.
Overall, I felt this book had depth of characters and storyline, enough to keep me thoroughly engaged throughout the story. It was engaging, if not a bit “heavy” at times, as well as providing some chuckle moments, some “aww” moments and certainly some moments where you just shook your head and wondered what Saylor was thinking. It brought home the fact that we do not grow up and experience life in a vacuum, but that others (parents especially) can have a significant effect on how we perceive events and live one’s life as a result of these perceptions.
A five star read in my opinion. You make up your own mind 🙂