This Review is of the book Aberrations by Penelope Przekop
Abberations was a complete joy for me to read. Angel’s search for the security of love and that which she defines as mother-ness is heartbreaking as she both succeeds and fails to find what she is looking for. Having moved to Houston, this book feels like a slice of what that general part of the south must have been like in the 80’s, and some of it doesn’t feel so distant if you are involved in the GLBTQ rights movement.
Angel is a 22 year old graduate student that is trying to make it by with one parent, two jobs, three friends and a never ending list of questions. She is caught up in several difficult situations. The man she loves is married to someone else, her father is about to remarry a woman that is determined to turn her life upside down, and she is seeking out something, anything, that feels like being mothered. She finally finds a mother of a sort, though it wasn’t anything like she thought it would be, and discovers the sense of mother-ness in a way that she never expected to find it. There is just one more problem, she is struggling to live a semblance of a normal life while struggling with narcolepsy before there were medicines to make managing it much easier. Finally deciding to find relief from her disability through recreational pharmaceuticals and date someone without telling them about the narcolepsy, she finds out that you can’t outrun a problem that lives inside your own body…
The interactions between the people in this novel are complex and as the story unfolds, you are caught up with this motley cast of characters as they navigate their lives through and around and despite each person’s aberration. No one seems to be quite functional, but they all manage to make it work somehow.
Penelope’s description of life as a narcoleptic is hauntingly accurate if you happen to suffer from it the way I did. Before being diagnosed, it could be maddening to experience cataplexy – you think you are losing your mind as you lay there, able to see, to hear, to THINK and respond inside your own head to the external stimuli around you. However not one muscle can move – you lay there helpless – on the floor at the store, school, your partner’s apartment. In those days it wasn’t something that you could easily hide if you had a moderate to severe case of it. Some narcoleptics are lucky – they only experience the EDS or excessive daytime sleepiness. I can sympathize with Angel – during the 80’s the treatments consisted of daytime stimulants, antidepressants that may or may not help cataplexy, and perhaps something to encourage sound sleep at night. These days narcoleptics can find much better medicine, but they function in ways that the medical experts don’t really understand. Let me tell you – being given highly regulated drugs and being told that they have no idea why they work is not the most comforting of experiences! If you want to find out more about narcolepsy check out the following websites:
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