BY GERALDINE BULAON-DUCUSIN
I’ve just finished reading a historical gothic, and I was looking for another suspense of sorts at my usual bargain bookshop when I came by a work of an author I have not read before, The Reach by Nate Kenyon.
It’s actually the cover that grabbed me, a picture of a young girl whose intense eyes could probably kill. Honestly, I nearly didn’t buy it because of the cover. Until I read the reviews and was won over by the good things the critics had to say.
One reviewer said that that the author exhibits the influence of Stephen King. With that, I began considering the book. Then I read what it’s about – a 10-year-old schizophrenic with supernatural powers to boot. For PhP 39 I thought, I’ll risk reading this piece of a newbie (compared to King). And guess what, he didn’t disappoint. The Reach is his second book. After reading, I thought, I have to find his first novel, Bloodstone.
The Reach is that piece which makes you read on and on until you get to the end. If you’re into psychological thriller or you’re highly interested in psychology 101 back in college, then, you’d love this piece.
The story began one night when a novice doctor had that young woman, so beautiful that she thought her to probably be the most beautiful woman that landed the earth; a young woman who was about to deliver a baby but was so calm that it gave the hospital personnel the creeps. It seemed as if she was suffering from some mental illness. Either that or she was some alien from another planet.
After that stormy night, the story jumped to 10 years later. A graduate student named Jess and her professor, Shelley was introduced to be the link to that girl, Sarah who was delivered that night. Sarah was diagnosed as schizophrenic since age six. She was confined to a private facility for children and young people who have special needs, only in her case, she has other capabilities that pose risk to others and herself.
The character of Sarah is well-developed in the story in that where she came from and how came to be that way, gifted with special abilities was explained. Shelley is somewhat mysterious but how she’s portrayed in the story will have to do. Jess Chambers, the graduate student who was chosen to study the case of Sarah, however, was more mysterious than Shelley, actually. Nonetheless, it’s still a page-turner and as you get to the last page, you’ll wish there’s a follow through to this story.
Jess tried to gradually win Sarah’s trust, but it didn’t take long because from their first meeting, Sarah opened herself up when she soundlessly uttered “help me.” Shelley personally picked Jess to draw out Sarah from her own shell. The health facility where Sarah is stays belongs to Shelley’s lifelong admirer, Doctor Wasserman.
In the several visits to the facility, Jess observed light bulb explosion, sudden drop in room temperature and other strange events which happen whenever Sarah is upset. And because of these, Sarah is regarded as having supernatural powers.
There’s a certain adrenaline rush while reading portions of the books which depicted Sarah in action, wreaking havoc to those who wanted to hurt her. It was like watching a movie, seeing in your mind as the actions unfold.
Sarah and Jess are a team, though eventually their connection to each other was revealed. Jess was not only instrumental in Sarah’s possible escape from the mental facility, but she’s also significant in sustaining the child’s sense of humanity and sanity.
What we usually know about people who are clairvoyant, or have telepathic or psychokinetic powers are that they are gifted, but also, that these people they are paranormal. Some refer to them as sensitives.
This novel mentioned some concepts we often hear or watch in the movies, such as the poltergeist, which occurs among young adolescents because as one biological theory has it, there are gradations to mental illness.
The book mentioned the case which happened at the turn of the century of a certain Esther Cox, who also sent some things flying or water boiling or loud banging of doors after the incident of attempted rape by her sister’s boyfriend.
Another interesting idea put forward in the book is the likelihood that Jesus Christ could be among the sensitives, given his ability to heal, to foretell future events or even walk on water. The other idea worth entertaining is the role of pharmaceutical organizations in suppressing or flourishing of people with autism and making guinea pig out of the human beings, including the sensitives.
The Reach is not just all about things paranormal and scientific it is also social. It has touched on the United States secret programs in the 1980s on studying people with psychic abilities and how these studies are used to advance the US defense. Reading it makes one stretch the endless possibilities, that nothing is really impossible.
The Reach may appear to be a thriller, but it actually has a lot of heart. There’s that bond between Sarah and her mother, and between her and Jess. It touched on people’s compassion, greed and even fear of death. It put forward the possibility that what is supernatural may have some scientific explanations. And what can be explained by science can actually come from something that’s hard to explain.
October 2016 Health and Lifestyle