The Other Side of the Window
Chloe Bierge; Kindle Edition, Published May 27th 2011
This powerful and dramatic story portrays the life of a young reporter whose life is overtaken by obsessive compulsive disorder and who, after failing conventional treatment, relentlessly pursues the connection between infection and mental illness.
The Other Side of the Window follows Savannah Bloom, who has earned herself a name as a reliable reporter.
But when her childhood sweetheart returns from Africa sick, Savannah becomes infected and begins drowning in a downward spiral of unrelenting frightening thoughts and exhausting compulsions to control them, even seeing images of a man and smelling things that she cannot easily decipher from reality. Her relationships and career unravel until, at the frayed edges of her harrowing descent into mental illness, she emerges victoriously as she winds her way through the dark side of the medical world and finds what she is looking for – evidence for an infection connection between various microbes and psychiatric diagnoses – and proves that the mind is not some intangible entity for theory to explain but is part of the brain, a major body organ, and treatment as such will lead to cures for such devastating illnesses. The Other Side of the Window gives a fascinating view into the devastation and pain of living with a psychiatric disorder, the fragility of the brain, and the heroic strength it takes to overcome the stigma of having a mental illness.
– Goodreads on The Other Side of the Window
I will begin by saying I was half-way terrorized out of my mind while reading this novel. If you have OCD tendencies like I do, this is going to be a really hardcore read, let me tell you that.
Chloe Bierge‘s writing is absolutely riveting; building her world around you, Savannah is going to become part of you after the first couple of pages; she’ll be that scared, struggling, terrified part of you, and you’ll live her roller-coaster of a life, it won’t much feel like reading, but like living it yourself, and intensely.
That seconded by the almost disturbing talent Chloe Bierge seems to have at giving you all the right stimulus to understand deeply and vividly the many pleasures of a compulsive mind, made me feel the need to read this with breaks, fun, attention-grabbing breaks. The tension buildup was almost staggering somewhere around the middle, and it felt like my eyes might just pop out of my head. Of course, that’s a really good thing when you’re writing thrillers, this right about thrilled me out of my skin.
The characters were very well written, especially Savannah – she was brilliantly written I’d say. Others sort of faded in the background for me, because I was so focused on her. But even so, other characters were solid; I found Berrie especially annoying, for some reason. Not unwell written, mind you, but especially annoying as a person.
Now, plot-wise, I felt constantly thrown off track. Just when I was starting to think, “A-HA! I know where this is going”, the whole thing shifted and I was at a loss again. I totally did not see things coming, a big role in that being the tension that buzzed through me. The ending was not something that I would have expected, the last quarter of the book I’d say was pretty much surprising. At any moment I expected Savannah to just go OCD and paranoid-ballistic and get institutionalized or something along those lines, and I’m very happy with the way things turned out.
As a very personal note, I felt that the emotional release was a sort of a gush nearer the end, then a more gradual, hence satisfying one. I would have been more happy with the “resolve-like” part of things being moved a bit more towards the middle, not much, just a bit. I also would have found it a lot easier to read if Savannah’s issues would have been less well described, as someone struggling with such tendencies, I was scared out of my mind for all of the first half, and the better part of the second one. This goes as credit for good writing of the author, of course, but not for my personal comfort while reading.
As a result, this is the kind of read that was very thrilling, and compelling, but that I wouldn’t really return to; it’s just too well written, especially the OCD-related parts, for me to go through again.
I do heartily recommend this to anyone that enjoys a good thrill and a lot of mystery; if you’re struggling with OCD tendencies, like I am, I would caution you be very brave before reading this little darling, it’s going to rock your boat quite a bit.
All in all, I find The Other Side of the Window to be a great experience, and a wonderful read.