'The Edge of Normal' By Carla Norton. Minotaur, 320 pages, $25.99
Carla Norton's enthralling "The Edge of Normal," about a young woman rebuilding her life after being held by a kidnapper for years, offers more than a ripped-from-the-headlines pastiche.
This fiction debut delivers an emotional story of a woman fighting to regain her sense of self, to reach, at least, an edge of normal without falling. Reeve LeClaire, who was kidnaped when she was 12 and held for four years, doesn't want people to see her only as a victim but as a survivor.
Now 22 and living on her own in San Francisco, Reeve forces herself to deal with traumatic stress that will always linger because of her ordeal. She maintains a precise routine and sessions with a compassionate therapist who is an authority on "captivity syndrome." Reeve also has become a self-educated expert on longtime captivity, having read every article and study published so she can better understand herself. She is willing to put her emotional well-being at risk when her therapist asks for her help in treating Tilly Cavanaugh, a 13-year-old found a year after being kidnapping. Reeve may be able to help Tilly because of their shared experiences. While Reeve's captor was caught, Tilly's kidnapper is still a threat.
Norton, who lives in Florida, expertly guides "The Edge of Normal" through myriad surprises and suspense-laden twists. But the foundation of "The Edge of Normal" is a heartfelt view of victims who, even after they have been rescued, become subjects to be exploited by psychologists and lawyers on documentaries and news shows.
Norton has been down this road before. In 1988, she co-wrote the true crime book "Perfect Victim" about Colleen Stan, a young hitchhiker who was picked up in California by a couple who kept her captive as a sex slave for seven years.
"The Edge of Normal" continues Norton's compassionate view of victims.
Oline H. Cogdill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the author
Carla Norton will discuss "The Edge of Normal" at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach, 561-279-7790