“Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again …”
So begins Daphne du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca. Little by little, the reader is drawn into the mind of the narrator and so into the minds and worlds of all the secondary characters. Thus, are we drawn into the world of Jared Winters and his family in Jayden Brooks’ Novel That’s Who I Am.
A victim of unspeakable trauma, Jared recounts his recovery through vivid flashbacks as he struggles to relate to the new and sometimes threatening world around him as he comes to consciousness in a sanitarium. Like the protagonist of Rebecca, Jared must come to terms with not only the ghosts of his past but with his own self-identity.
Ms. Brooks is an adept at placing the reader firmly in the mind of the protagonist. One feels each and every physical pain as Jared recovers from his injuries; and one also feels – viscerally – the psychological and emotional damage Jared has suffered at the hand of his abuser; and by his own failure to act.
That’s Who I am is at once a study of the psychology of the abuser and the abused and a thoughtful essay on the importance of ‘family’ – biologically or otherwise.
At the end of the novella, one comes away satisfied. Cheering for Jared and his successful journey of self-discovery and appreciative of a writer who can pull one down to the depths of despair and lift one to the heights of hopefulness with equal aplomb.