“Her silence was like a mirror—reflecting yourself back at you. And it was often an ugly sight.”
I feel that the domestic noir mystery novel has become almost cliche at this point. After Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl took the world by storm, a multitude of others poured forth that followed the same formula, whether by chance or purposeful emulation. I would consider The Silent Patient part of the same genre, but refreshingly different from many of its compatriots. The setting, the narrator, and the twists all felt unique, and combined in a way that actually surprised me. I especially enjoyed the psychology element, and the way the author ensured that we could see mental health issues and therapy from the points of view of both patients and doctors. Also, I appreciated the inclusion of an Ancient Greek play, and its importance to the plot; this addition felt very cultured, and made me immediately interested in learning more about said play.
“Somehow grasping at vanishing snowflakes is like grasping at happiness: an act of possession that instantly gives way to nothing.”
There is one caveat that I would like to throw in here, and that is a small trigger warning. I don’t often include these in my reviews, but I feel that one is justified here because of how prevalent a role mental disorders play in this novel. There is one secondary character in the medical profession who mistreats his patients by over-medicating them and claiming that almost any problem patient is borderline. For those who don’t know, Borderline Personality Disorder is real, but has unfortunately become the psychological equivalent of Fibromyalgia. Just as unexplained physical pain is often diagnosed as Fibromyalgia when doctors can’t determine the true cause of said pain, so are many odd mental health and behavioral issues diagnosed as Borderline, even when that’s not truly the case. I have a cousin who is actually Borderline, and life is an incredible struggle for her. Doctors who make blanket diagnoses, as a medical professional in this book does, are doing a massive disservice to both the patients they are misdiagnose and those who are actually struggling with that particular disorder. End rant. But seriously, if you or someone you’re close to has been diagnosed as Borderline, be aware that this particular disorder is purposely mishandled by a character in this book.
“Once you name something, it stops you seeing the whole of it, or why it matters. You focus on the word, which is just the tiniest part, really, the tip of the iceberg.”
I feel that there’s very little I can say about this book without inadvertently giving something away, so I’ll just say that it’s well worth reading, especially if you’re interested in finding a mystery that stands out from the genre’s norm. Go in as blind as you can. It’s an addictively readable book, and it felt like the pages flew by. If you’re anything like me, you’ll stay up late into the night with this story, reading frantically until you reach the very end.
“Love that doesn’t include honesty doesn’t deserve to be called love.”
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