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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.


  1. I agree with you 100%, I understand taking a few liberties but there has to be a limit.

    Ppl do retain info from books/media and they will get a "warped" view of what something is or is not.

    Short story: On YouTube I saw a sad but old video about a 2 feral cats, one was dead (very sad) and the other was poking, prodding, biting its neck, etc.
    Now everyone wanted to believe 100% the cat was in serious mourning. As I watched the cat I realized a few things were going on. I pointed this out to everyone to let them know.
    Of course one person whom I find out later is a young person hopped all over me.
    After I told her how I am qualified to say what I did she cussed at me.
    So I gave up. I told her to show the vid to a Vet & let the Vet explain it to you.
    I was not going to fight w/a stranger.

    Media is powerful and this vid that was one thing was totally altered to become another using a sad song and a few choice words.

    Sorry to rant & I feel silly as can be but it bothered me.. Maybe I am being a bit anal about this huh? lolz.

    Have a gr8 weekend :)

  2. I don't think you are being silly or anal - we readers and viewers have a right to be respected.I think there is a big difference between taking liberties to make the plot work and going right off the branch for no reason at all. Yes, I will have a great weekend - hope you have the same.