Sunday, August 21, 2011
Am I a reviewer or am I a bitchy whiner...?
I know that's an odd title for a blog post, but it is what I'm asking myself today. I just finished reading Fragile by Lisa Unger. She's a top selling mystery writer and, sure enough, she can keep you turning the pages. This book begins with a missing teen who may have run away or who may have been abducted. This sets the town on edge and brings up the past for several of it's long time residents, all of whom have fought their own memories of a teen who went missing, and was found dead, during adolescent years. The heroine of the story is a psychologist, the mom of the missing teens boyfriend - and that's where I lose it with this book.
You see, I'm a therapist, with a successful practice for almost 3 decades. And, this leading character, Maggie, is just not okay in that role. The author claims to have interviewed and relied on a therapist, but I can't imagine what his or her credentials were, or how he or she felt about the consulting after reading the book. The author has Maggie breaking boundaries, or having none at all (she's pleased she has a cell phone so her clients can call her day or night, weekday or weekend - I don't think so honey), and she refers to one of her clients as "the neurotic" - aside from being insulting -it's also not a diagnosis nor the way any therapist would think of a client. And, when it comes to trauma treatment, Maggie has all the therapeutic skills of my 9 year old daughter.
Yes, I know this is a fiction and we all take liberties to support the narrative and move the story along- but an accurate portrayal of a therapeutic practitioner would have allowed for the same thing - and it wouldn't have been so, so wrong. As a therapist I was annoyed that the writer didn't respect my profession enough to get it even halfway right. And, I'm sure there are few police out there who are equally irritated because even I could see that the liberties with that profession were rife.
So - who has the problem - me or Lisa Unger? Am I just being bitchy to want to have my profession portrayed within the boundaries of reality? Or am I right in believing an author should respect her readers by ensuring at least some degree of accuracy in how he or she portrays the professions of the characters? Will I read another of her books - I don't know. There are lots of good mystery writers out there and most others do a better job of presenting their character's professions - I'll likely go with them.