REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
The Nearly Girl
by Lisa de Nikolits
The Nearly Girl by Lisa de Nikolits is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Fans of A Prayer for Owen Meany and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will love this clever, fast-paced and enjoyable thriller.
Like a modern-day Joan of Arc, Amelia Fisher attempts to carve out a 'normal life', showing us how mythic the idea of 'normal' really is.
With a poetic genius for a father, an obsessed body builder for a mother, and an enchantingly eccentric group seeking the help of an unorthodox therapist, what could possibly go wrong?
A chance discovery propels Amelia and fellow therapy attendee, Mike, with whom she is in love, into a life-threatening situation instigated by the crazed doctor's own dark secret but Amelia's psychosis saves the day.
Told with warmth, humor and populated with vividly original characters, this sprint-paced novel has it all, from restraining orders to sex in office bathrooms, and a nail-biting ending.
A novel about an unusual family, expected social norms and the twists and turns of getting it all slightly wrong, the consequences of which prove fatal for some.
Amelia lay still. Mike was next to her, snoring slightly.
Amelia wondered how much time had passed since she and Mike had vanished. She wondered how Dr. Carroll had covered up their disappearance but she was sure his story was airtight. She wondered if anybody was worried about them and looking for them. She hoped Ethel was out of hospital and she tried to send messages to Nana with her mind, telling her to look for them.
Amelia’s eyes were wide open and she was trying to make little growling noises in her throat and eventually she was able to make a sound.
She graduated to trying to form words. Ma….. Ma….. Mak….. Mak!
Mak? The word was hardly decipherable but she was grateful for the utterance.
Mike? She growled the guttural utterance as quietly as she could but there was no reply.
Amelia lay on her back and she closed her eyes and concentrated very hard on trying to roll over. It seemed impossible to do in one big motion and she broke it down, first just trying to move her right arm across her chest. When she achieved this gigantic feat, she was drenched in sweat and she felt exhausted.
She wasn’t sure why but the sedative was metabolizing in her system in a different way to the others, it seemed to be leaving her bloodstream much faster. She was worried that Dr. Carroll would notice and administer the next dose before the current one had worn off.
She was about to roll over onto her stomach when she heard a noise. Alarmed that Dr. Carroll had returned, she flopped over onto her back, and adjusted herself into the same position as he had left her.
No sooner had she done this, than the doctor pushed his way into the room.
He sat down on the floor and heaved a great sigh.
You two have caused me an inordinate problem, he said. Really and truly you have. Why did you have to come here? Why?
He sat cross-legged and put his head into his hands.
I don’t know what to do with you, he said, his voice muffled. I have to get rid of you but I don’t know how to do it. I’m not a violent man, I’m not. I never thought it would come to this.
He rubbed his face. I could kill you very easily, that part is not the problem. It’s the disposing of the bodies. Hmm…
He fell into deep silence. If your bodies were ever found, the drugs in your system would lead you right back to me. But it’s very tough to dispose of bodies. Much harder than you would think. They make it look so easy in the movies but I wouldn’t even know where to start. Although, that said, I could drive north for a few hours, find a couple of side roads and dump you in the swamps. But I’d have to wade into them, carrying you, and you are both so heavy and there are snakes in those waters and frogs and god knows what, so no… that won’t work.
Oh, this is such a problem. I wonder if I should disappear instead. But why should I have to give up everything I have worked so hard to achieve? Why should I be the one to lose everything just because two nosy parkers poked their nosy noses where they shouldn’t have?
What about fire… I could try to burn you both, but bodies don’t burn entirely in fire and how and why and where would you have set yourselves alight? I don’t think I would be able to create a scenario in such a way that it would be believable to anyone.
There’s dismemberment of course. I could dismember you in the bathtub but the blood, ugh, blood. And I would have to buy saws and knives and plastic and containers and from what I’ve read, the evidence of blood is very hard to rid of. And how would I get rid of the body parts? I am back to square one. Disposal.
A lover’s pact? Suicide? Yes… but I’d need to get you both into a motel which would be a logistical nightmare. Slitting your wrists would be easy but I’d also have to make sure enough time passed for all the drugs to clear out of your system. And how am I supposed to carry you two lugs into a motel without being seen?
He gave a great sigh. I have to prepare dinner for my family. I don’t care about you two. You can starve to death for all I care.
He got up. I’m one of the top two percentile of brilliant geniuses, he said. I will think of something.
Praise for the Book
"In her latest novel, The Nearly Girl, Lisa de Nikolits takes us deep into the complex workings of an extraordinary mind. Amelia Fisher, the protagonist of de Nikolits’s latest offering, reminds readers of the importance of passion and adventure in a world that wishes to keep our wilder urges contained. Like a modern-day Joan of Arc, Fisher’s attempts to carve out a 'normal life', take her to the fringes of social acceptability – showing us how mythic the idea of 'normal' really is. Through a story that surprises, page after page, The Nearly Girl will take readers on an unexpected adventure – where the lines between the rational and irrational are blurred. From hoarding to the fear of public speaking, this psychiatric thriller excavates the phobias, idiosyncrasies and character oddities that make us human at the core." ~ Andrea Thompson, author of Over Our Heads
"Playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote in 1881, 'The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children.' Lisa De Nikolits updates this cautionary observation in her latest book, as the reckless life choices of a young woman and her schizophrenic, acid-dropping mate are visited upon their daughter. Beautifully told, The Nearly Girl softens its sting with convivial depictions of Toronto bohemians, before revealing the ugly aftermath of people shipwrecked upon the foolish choices of youth. The Nearly Girl is as bleak and beautiful as the Rosedale Ravine after a hail storm." ~ Elaine Ash, editor of Walking the Dunes with Tennessee Williams
"A fast paced and illuminating story where endeavoring to conform to society's perception of normal, exposes the masks of illusion. Amelia Fisher's unconventional upbringing with an LSD addicted poet father and an emotionally distance body building mother leads her to attending sessions with a crazy doctor. Whose unorthodox method called D.T.O.T. - 'Do the Opposite Thing' has significant repercussions on his patients including Amelia. A chance discovery propels Amelia and fellow attendee, Mike with whom she is in love, are plunged into a life-threatening situation instigated by the doctor's own dark secret. Hidden twists abound with growing tension culminating in a surprising ending." ~ Mandy Eve Barnett, published author and freelance writer
"The Nearly Girl is completely mesmerizing! Lisa de Nikolits' tale of family dysFUNction is chock full of comedy, drama and page turning suspense. Anyone who has ever felt alienated by the unwritten rules and norms of society will find a kindred spirit in Amelia, the 'Nearly Girl' daughter of a female bodybuilder and a tortured poet, who believes that rainy days are just perfect for picnics on the beach and who fears that getting on the right bus will lead her to a dead end. Told with warmth, humor and populated with vividly original characters, The Nearly Girl illustrates the importance of keeping the magic in an increasingly corporate, cookie-cutter world." ~ Heather Babcock, author of Of Being Underground and Moving
"Amelia Fisher is a brilliant, beautiful, charming, young woman who should have the future and world brightly gift-wrapped in her slender hands. However, she has to reconnect with her acid-dropping, addle-headed father, Henry, a man she hasn’t seen since childhood. Then there is her cognitive therapy group led by the unconventional Dr. Carroll, a man whose methods are either genius, or deeply damaging. This sprint-paced novel has it all from restraining orders to sex in office bathrooms, and a nail-biting ending! Lisa de Nikolits' skill is proven in this dynamic rapid page-turner which enchants and delights readers with suspense and unforeseen twists and surprises!" ~ Michael Fraser, author of The Serenity of Stone
By Lynda Dickson
When Megan meets Henry, it's love at first sight. But love isn't always perfect. Henry is a poet who uses LSD, he's slightly unhinged, eccentric, and mentally unstable. Megan's parents Ethel and Ed are very supportive, especially when Megan gets pregnant. But when her daughter Amelia starts behaving like Henry from an early age, Megan withdraws and becomes obsessed with body building. They call Amelia the "Nearly Girl" because she nearly gets things right but can also get them so wrong. Fast forward to Amelia at twenty-two, when she meets Mike in a group therapy session run by Dr. Frances Carroll, whose mantra is to "do the opposite thing". The members of this group of misfits each purport to be in therapy for one reason, but we find out each one has a much deeper problem. They all fall victim to Dr. Carroll's unorthodox therapy - in more ways than one. But, when Amelia discovers a shocking truth about her therapist, who will believe a mental patient?
The Nearly Girl gives us a heartbreaking look at those who suffer from mental illness and how it impacts the lives of those around them. Much like its quirky characters, this book offers a whole lot more than what you see at first glance. Based on the cutesy cover and the light-hearted beginning of the book, I wasn't expecting a thriller. But The Nearly Girl is a unique combination of literary fiction, humor, romance ... and thriller. With its truly beautiful writing and memorable characters, this book is sure to appeal to many different types of readers.
About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the USA, Australia and Britain.
Lisa de Nikolits is the award-winning author of five novels. Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror won a 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award. West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick. A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched in Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and wide readership. Between the Cracks She Fell launched in Fall 2015 and was well reviewed by the Quill & Quire and was on the recommended reading lists for Open Book Toronto and 49th Shelf. Between the Cracks She Fell was also reviewed by Canadian Living magazine and called "a must-read book of 2015". Between the Cracks She Fell won a Bronze IPPY Award 2016 for Contemporary Fiction. All books have been published by Inanna Publications.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card (US only) or one of three ebook copies of The Nearly Girl by Lisa de Nikolits (US only).
Plus, enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of two signed copies of The Nearly Girl by Lisa de Nikolits (closes 12 December; open to US, CA, GB, and AU).