Goodreads Book Blurb:Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.
He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny that she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.
Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the crazy guy, but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for both of them, filled with hope. But just when it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…
Genre - YA Romance
A beautifully twisted written love story that will keep you guessing and thinking long after the last page is read.
Straightjacket is Meredith Towbin’s debut novel. This book totally took me by surprise and left me thinking on a deeply profound level. It raises the question of how fragile the human mind really is and can you trust what science has told you is fact or believe in a faith and a reality you are uncertain of and can’t see.
Eighteen year old Anna is admitted to a psychiatric hospital after she threatens to kill herself. Her controlling and abusive parents have decimated her self-esteem and confidence to the point of extreme panic attacks. She is confused and on the edge of a dark abyss when we meet her. The outside world is a place she can’t cope with so she keeps to herself and spends her time absorbed in books. That is, until she meets Caleb. He’s different, he’s handsome and he can create the most stunning drawings she’s ever seen. He can see past her darkness to the light she has buried inside. Of course she can’t help but fall in love with him.
... All he could do now was take away some of the hurt and humiliation that had been heaped on her over the last eighteen years. He would show her what being loved meant.
Caleb is nineteen and has an important mission he has to accomplish. Sitting in a psychiatric ward, his body stiff and unmoving, his mind settles in the commons area in Heaven where his guide, Samuel, tells him he has to save the new girl, Anna. He has to convince her to live her own life away from the influence of her corrosive parents and to follow her dream of being a writer. Once he accomplishes this mission, he can come back to Heaven and stay. But when he inserts himself into her life, he never thought he’d fall in love and want to stay.
“I love you. That’s all you need to know about me. I love you.” - Caleb
The question is never straightforward and neither is the answer. Is Caleb mentally ill or is there something more to his time on Earth? As you follow this read and bits of his past are revealed, this one question lingers in your mind and you really get no definitive answer. So again, do you trust what science tells you is real? That the mind is a fragile thing and Caleb is mentally ill, or is he really an angel sent back to Earth on a mission to help Anna? I love that we are left questioning this. Caleb was a wonderful character. He was dark and brooding and he certainly had issues but there was always the “hope” or “chance” or whatever you want to call it that he was something more.
...“I’ve just been thinking about what you said, about being an angel, and it’s just, I mean... who am I to say it’s not true?” - Anna
Anna’s belief in Caleb was beautiful. She chose to keep her belief and to go with him and to take care of him as he’d taken care of her. After all she’d been through, it was a wonder she could function on any level, let alone allow Caleb to lead her to a healthy state of mind. Both of these characters are broken and struggling but together they find a sort of temporary peace.
And then this story takes a very dark and frightening turn. Things start to spin out of control for both characters and what they believe and how they feel is tested to the extreme.
“...The things she loved about him were slowly slipping away. He didn’t joke around anymore and barely even smiled. A sadness was swallowing him up.
The Wrap Up:
This story was well written, unique, beautiful and tragic and left me hopeful yet heartbroken. For such a quick read, it truly packs a punch. I can’t wait to read more by this author and this book has left its imprint in my heart.