COMA GIRL (Part 1) by Stephanie Bond is part one in a planned series of six. In my rather chaotic system of organization, I read part three first because that is the first one that came to my attention. I liked it so much that I am going to post reviews for parts one and two then wait for part four, due out in October. It should be obvious that I like the short collection which when presented this way might be called novellas. Or maybe monthly diaries. Whatever the label, this is good writing from an unusual perspective, that of a mentally sentient woman trapped in a coma.
The Introduction which precedes the daily entries ends with a threat to all other characters in the book and a promise to the reader. “I am the ultimate eavesdropper, and friend, if I ever wake up, I’m going to write a tell-all. Meanwhile, I’ll tell you.” The reader is hooked immediately. Secrets are about to be revealed.
Marigold is in a hospital in Atlanta with a head injury sustained in a head-on collision with a car driven by Keith Young, a star football athlete. On July 1st, she is just coming around mentally and begins assessing her situation. While doing that she is also listening to and smelling everything around her. As she listens to her mother she reflects on her childhood, one in which she was totally ignored by her mother. Marigold is the middle child. Brother Alex is smart, became a doctor and is serving in Afghanistan. Sister Sydney is beautiful and is a third-year law student. Marigold sold carpets. She was the unappreciated child.
It was interesting to read part three first. I got a feeling for Marigold’s background through her thoughts. But in this part one, the backgrounds are presented clearly. The reader will know clearly who the other three patients are in the room with Marigold and what their backgrounds are. Reading from the beginning is definitely better (IMHO).
There is a lot of sadness in this book as Marigold reflects on the way her family has considered her in the past and even now. Her parents never visited her in her apartment and did not even know her address. On one hospital visit, her mother and father were able to visit her together. The father had the day off (July 4th) and they were going to a park for a fireworks show. Marigold thought, “I’m getting them both at once. Plus, I remembered the hospital is close to Centennial Park, so I’m on the way. Like Starbucks.” (loc 240-241). This was one of the saddest observations in this installment.