She Lies Close By Sharon Doering Review
Before I review Sharon Doering’s debut, She Lies Close, I have a story. And whenever there is a story with mom, you usually know this is going to be good.
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So, as I’m reading, She Lies Close, I get to a chapter titled “Peace Be With Your Vagina.” First of all, I’m going to talk about Sharon Doering, She Lies Close, and the lost art of chapter titles in a minute. But for the moment, let’s just stay with this chapter. Of course, the second I read that title. The first thing that popped into my mind. The Swap, by Robyn Harding. If anyone has read THAT review- the title of which was: When You Have To Google “Hostile Vagina,” There’s A There, There. That led to this meme:
So, of course, I ran to my laptop and created this meme for Sharon Doering and Robyn Harding and flipped it onto twitter. Thankfully, both authors have a sense of humor and enjoyed it.
Then, I sent it to my mom. BUT. I also sent her the quote in the featured image:
Thank you to Titan Books for putting up with my obnoxious behavior and providing an Arc in exchange for an honest review.
To which, my mom responded, not with her normal (and in the case of the hostile vagina in The Swap AND Girls with Sharp Sticks. and both Rory Power books, etc.. -the list is a long one)
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU READING… but instead
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SENDING ME?
I said- Part of a book I’m reading.
She said, well maybe you should stop and then, of course, the other famous line.
Where the hell do you find these books?
Mind you this is the same woman who watches The Walking Dead, horror movies (ask me about Pretzel freaking Jack some time) and spent Thanksgiving a few years ago binge-watching American Horror Story with me. So, this book outrage makes absolutely NO SENSE. I have no idea where it comes from. But it is a lot of fun flipping her out.
Now– the actual review. Where to start. There is so many wonderful ways to break this down. Let’s spin the wheel and see where it lands.
In All Seriousness
Let’s get the seriousness out of the way and then we can get to the fun parts. Adderall. This always a pet peeve of mine. Especially since it became the punchline of every Donald Trump joke going. There are a lot of ways to point out what he is doing wrong that doesn’t involve perpetuating Adderall stereotypes and it needs to stop. No. Telling me that I don’t abuse it so I shouldn’t care isn’t going to work. Because out there in the real world, it doesn’t matter to anyone else. It is easier telling people I’m bipolar then it is telling them I’m on Adderall for my ADD. That is how bad the bullseye has become.
Mental illness, for everything everyone likes to say, is still a lot of lip service. I know this firsthand from everything I lost when I went on SSDI. People say a lot, but push comes to shove, their actions say a lot more. They might not ever admit to you, but what they don’t say, says a lot. And they don’t have any other reason to give you. Generally speaking, I’ve gotten used to this genre and how a lot of it has mental illness as a springboard. Not all of it, but a lot of it. And if it isn’t completely irresponsible and shameful (which is why I don’t get anyone’s love of The Other Mrs., but let me not start) I’ve learned to discuss it but let it go. And some of it, is even done well, really well.
However, Sharon Doering is the first author, hell the first (possibly or that I know of) public figure to get Adderall right through a character. Is it 100% my experience or how I wrote it? Of course not. Everyone’s experience is different, and I didn’t interview her, so I don’t know where the inspiration, or what her lens was for writing Grace’s Adderall use in She Lies Close, came from. But 95% of it was spot on. Bless.
- Damn it. Grace stuck up for herself. Even in her own self-doubt, in her mind. Even if she wondered? She did her own research. She advocated for herself by educating herself. If she had concerns about how it might be hurting her? She did the research and armed herself.
- The above let her stick up for herself. So, when people did judge her, come at her, tried to shame her? She had not just her personal experience but the knowledge to explain it to them.
- Grace’s fear is real and legit. I’ve never had children. But I get her fear of losing them. I’ve been terrified of telling doctors, colleagues, people, one word too much. What would they do, take away? What would happen? It makes you paranoid because you know what that stigma is, and you know how quickly people get stupid. And when you have a president who wants to blame every mass shooting on mental illness? God. I’m terrified that someday he’ll just have us all locked away if one word is said wrong or one action. That fear is real. And it is relatable. Anyone who thinks that is straight paranoia? No. It is another form of being a marginalized part of the population. We just don’t speak up because we are scared to.
- My whole life I’ve said I felt like I had a cloud in my head, and I wanted a vacuum to come suck it out. Adderall was that vacuum. If someone figured it out when I was still a kid? I might have been a rocket scientist. This whole fog that I was trying to get through. And I could never break free of it. What Grace said, in She Lies Close was even better. I nearly cried when she explained it.
I’ve tried everything else… I tried rigorous exercise, no meat, no dairy, lots of coffee, no coffee, meditation, self-help books, cold showers, and hot baths. None of these alleviated the feeling of tar running through my veins and gumming up my brain.
This isn’t an addiction to speed. It isn’t meth. It is a miswired brain. Just like the medication I take for being bipolar. Just like any other medication you take for your body. It doesn’t solve everything. I still need post-its for my post-its, and reminders on my phone, along with the calendar reminders. But the Adderall allows that all to work. The days I cycle off of it, to give my system a break. I make sure I don’t have anything pressing on those days.
So, for this, I want to thank Sharon Doering. I don’t know if it was an accident, planned, or out of the experience. But no matter the reason, it is important and needs to happen more.
Ok. Stepping off the soapbox. Bet you are glad I started with that story about mom.
Lost Art Of Chapter Titles
Seriously. Usually, chapters boil down to just numbers unless there are different points of view. Then we get the name of the character. Sharon Doering is ready to bring back the chapter titles and she is going to be a whole smart-ass about it. I’m guessing not everyone will like this approach. Me? I’m going to die on that hill with Doering. Let’s take a look at some of the chapter titles in She Lies Close. None of these are spoilers. Promise. They aren’t even in order.
House Burned To The Ground
We Don’t Bite
I’ve Been Hiding My Penis
I Know More Than I Should
My Vagina Was Made In China
Peace Be With Your Vagina
When The Stovetop Is Flaming
A Fucking Marble In The Mouth
This is just but a sampling of some 63 chapters. Some of them have a direct connection to the chapter and some are just… smartassery runs wild. Either way? They are priceless and I love all 63 of them.
Speaking Of Smartassery
First-person narratives are not easy to write. They aren’t easy to read. But Grace is such a complete hot wreck that I couldn’t let it go. She has to be one of the most relatable 40-year-old single moms, ever. And I’m not even a mom. I can relate to her complete sense of not knowing which end is up and I’m not a mom. Now I may be completely wrong, but I’m guessing that if I can relate to her without kids? Most moms that are our age, are going to relate.
She is divorced, just moved into a house, and is working for next to nothing in a pre-school. Then Grace finds out that her new neighbor is a suspect in kidnapping a little girl named Ava, just five months ago (i.e everyone thinks Ava is dead). With two kids of her own, including Chloe, this sends Grace into an imbalanced state of frenzy. Between not being able to sleep, worrying about keeping it all together, and now keeping them safe from the new neighbor, she is cracking at the seams.
And. It. Is. Hysterical. The type of thoughts that go through her mind is honest, brutal, and verge between hysteria and hysterical. Not in a shaming way but in a way that everyone knows we have all had, mothers or not. Supergrass has this great song called Mary. And there is a line in it… “The back of every head holds something obscene.” And it is just the truth. It isn’t always obscene. It is just these irrational thoughts that pop in and out of our heads from time to time. They might be funny or stupid or whatever. But they are there.
‘I’m all done,’ Chloe says, already climbing out. I wrap her in a towel. She turns back toward the tub. ‘Look at all the sand. My vagina made the tub all dirty…”
My feminist, protective, angry momma kicks in Your vagina did nothing wrong. Nothing is our vagina’s fault. It’s not dirty. it’s healthy and exactly as it should be! It is not the source of any man’s problem. It is part of your body and will let you become a mother if you want. Love your vagina. Peace be with your vagina. Your vagina is full of rainbows and sunshine!
Wow. Ok, mommy-lady.
Also, dealing with her ex-cheating husband.
If he’d cheated once, I would’ve stayed. Five times, he was wiping his ass with my soul.
Chloe and Wyatt
I have to give some love to Chole and Wyatt. Especially Wyatt, who is determined to not let his sister become a murderer. Good for him. I’m not sure why he is determined to believe his sister is destined for a life as a murderer. But here we are. However, again, the humor is high, and the dialogue is just level 10 on the honesty factor. And this I can speak to because of 15 years of education experience PK-12. I’ve heard it… well I won’t say all because I’ve learned to not ever say all when it comes to kids, but this is completely on the spot.
‘She bit me. If she bites me again, I’m going to bite her back.’
‘You can’t, Wyatt. You’re too big and you know better.’
‘If I don’t bite her back, she’ll never learn. She’ll kill someone and end up in jail for life.’
Three years old on a one-way train to murder. Come on, Wyatt. He is angry at her and too dramatic, but also worried for her future. Sweet, I suppose.
There is a running theme here with Wyatt and Chloe. And it is priceless.
She Lies Close Wrap By Sharon Doering-Up Summary Ending
She Lies Close is a wild ride. Sharon Doering’s debut isn’t your typical Adult Psychological Thriller by a long shot, but it is fantastic. Grace is a unique character but that is what makes her so damn fantastic. We all say this kind of thing doesn’t happen in real life, but if it did? This probably the most honest truth of how it would probably play out. It wouldn’t be the “amateur sleuth” we normally get but like Encyclopedia Brown amateur sleuth who starts sleepwalking, hallucinating, and says I’m not doing this, I can’t do this, ok I’m doing this… most of the time. Because sure you want to protect your kids, but it is going to break something inside the more lines you start crossing.
And at one point do you start forgetting what lines you have or haven’t crossed? And when do you lose the compass that tells you to stay out of other people’s lives, to just let the cops handle it or to reach out for help because you are rightfully scared and not paranoid? When you are just a regular middle-aged mom already barely keeping it together that finds out a possible suspect in a child kidnapping is living next door? Chances are you aren’t going to handle it like Columbo.