Review: The Other Place by Elizabeth Roderick

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The Other Place by Elizabeth Roderick 
Publication date: July 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Synopsis:

Living in Justin Flaherty’s mind has never been easy. Unfortunately, things are about to get much worse…

At eighteen years old, most guys are chasing girls or dreams. Justin, on the other hand, wants to draw and be left alone. He’s been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but it’s more than that. He’s in tune with the Dark Energy that surrounds us all, and can see how it controls people’s actions. Sometimes, the Dark Energy will give him visions, to help him on the road to enlightenment.

When his mother hooks up with a Baptist preacher named David who believes Justin’s schizophrenia can be cured with prayer, Justin knows he has to get out—or risk involuntary commitment in a religious  facility.

After a brush with incarceration, Justin takes off to San Francisco, where his drawings are not just noticed, but admired…

Justin’s bizarre and beautiful drawings create a stir in the art world. Meanwhile, he’s homeless, couch surfing, and trapped in a continuous battle with his mental illness. His salvation is a girl named Liria Czetski with a shady past. They’d met a year ago, and she’s appeared in his visions ever since. It turns out Liria has been sharing those visions, something that is a surprise to everyone but Justin…

When secrets surface, Justin is forced to realize that being a genius has a downside. Surrounded by people who want to exploit his talent, he must fight not only for his career and freedom, but perhaps for his life…

 

Goodreads | Amazon

***

☆☆➹⁀☆3.5-4 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

Review:

The Other Place by Elizabeth Roderick is New Adult contemporary fiction. It is the second book in a series, however, I didn’t think that I was missing too much from not having read book one.

The Other Place is the story of Justin who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He is smart, funny, and quite talented. Unfortunately, his family and many of his peers only focus on his differentness. Justin’s description of his symptoms makes the schizophrenia seem like an outside force that is trying to take over him. The pain and the push-pull of Justin’s inner demons is excruciating.

His mother is a lonely woman who blames Justin for her lack of a social and romantic life. From the start she is made out to be an unlikable troll; and there is little development beyond that image. Her latest male friend, David, is devoutly religious, and Ms. Roderick hints of him being fanatical about his beliefs. Mina, is the one friend who truly supports Justin. She believes in him and helps him find his way as an independent adult. Liria is a character from book one. She is troubled. She both uses and sells drugs. Her drug use makes it appear to Justin that she also visits The Other Place. Liria is involved with Arty, a woman who was also introduced in book one and is obviously some sort of thug/crime boss.

The Other Place highlights how frequently people take advantage of others with mental health issues. From art dealers to his own family, Justin is deemed a problem to be handled and a source of funds (government funding/art sales). I did not get the feeling that Justin, as the sole narrator, was unreliable. He is observant and sensitive to the people with whom he interacts. He very quickly picks up on people’s negative or positive vibe. He refers to the negative aura as The Dark Force. When he is overwhelmed, he escapes to The Other Place—essentially blacking out; is the only relief he gets when overwhelmed by stimulation or situations.

Ms. Roderick sensitively portrays Justin’s strengths and struggles with his inner demons. The plot is evenly paced, and the story reaches it’s zenith with the reintroduction of Arty; the segue at the end of the story involves this conniving antagonist. This well-written story is filled with evocative descriptions, interesting characters, and a robust storyline.

***
About the author:  ELIZABETH RODERICK grew up as a barefoot ruffian on a fruit orchard near Yakima, in the eastern part of Washington State. After weathering the grunge revolution and devolution in Olympia, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, she recently moved to a small cluster of houses amidst the vineyards of California’s Central Coast.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and worked for many years as a paralegal and translator. She is a musician and songwriter, and has played in many bands, rocking some instruments she doesn’t even know the real names for, but mostly guitar, bass and keyboards.

Elizabeth writes novels for young adults and adults; short stories; and memoir which is way more interesting than it should be. Her stories are about love, death, gang warfare, and madness; her characters tend to be of the type that society generally shuns: addicts, convicts, and the mentally ill. She believes if people get to know these characters in stories and in real life, they’ll find them more likeable than they originally thought.

Author links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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