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- Mary Monroe, author of God Still Don't Like Ugly
"A beautifully written novel. An amazing eye-opener."
- Kimberla Lawson Roby, New York Times bestselling author of Too Much of A Good Thing
"Fans of Donna Hill's bestselling novels An Ordinary Woman and Rhythms, will enjoy her latest."
". . . beautifully written, very powerful book. . . the overall message is one of understanding and hope."
- RT Bookclub
"The makings of a made-for-television movie."
- Publishers Weekly
It was an odd assemblage they made, yet commonplace, at least here at Cedar Grove, where fractured minds were prodded and patched. One walked tall, cloaked in a posture of importance, willowy flame red hair brushing swaying shoulders. The other, a birch brown and catlike in grace, appeared cover-girl stylish, pushing the third, silent bronze-toned beauty in a wheelchair. Yet the trio appeared to move almost seamlessly across the lush green grounds of the Savannah, Georgia, facility-embraced by rose bushes, towering magnolia trees, and jasmine vines-wrapped up, it seemed, in the tranquillity of their surroundings. In truth, that was a lie.
A closer look revealed two pairs of eyes, one brown set, one green, both intent and serious, their dual voices barely carried by the feeble breath of the afternoon breeze. It was the third who was their concern, the focus of their hushed conversation. From time to time, they ceased speaking to look mournfully upon Rayne Holland as she sat motionless in the chair, her gaze fixed and unseeing. So they believed. I know why I'm here, Rayne thought, listening to her doctor and her best friend discuss her "illness" as if she were invisible. They think I'm crazy because I cut my wrists, because I won't talk. I don't talk because they can't hear me. They won't hear me, they never have. I'm just tired, that's all. Tired of all the talk, the emptiness, the betrayals by people who claim to love you. That doesn't make me crazy, just fed up, she concluded, beginning to unfasten the buttons of her pale peach cotton blouse, the tiny white buttons taunting her nut brown fingers with slippery elusiveness. She knew Dr. Dennis would stop her, because for some reason she couldn't stop herself.
"We've discussed this, Rayne," Pauline Dennis said, speaking with a calmness that chilled Rayne, stilling her shaky fingers. "Button your blouse, Rayne."
Rayne released a long, deep sigh, heavy enough to drop to the ground, hitting it like a rubber ball and bouncing back into her chest, until next time. She did what she was told, as she'd always done.
Periodically, as the trio meandered down the paved pathways that ran the circumference of Cedar Grove Medical Center, Gayle Davis, Rayne's lifelong friend, would stroke Rayne's mane of black, crinkly hair with a slender brown hand, almost as you would a pet or a small child who'd wandered into your space in the midst of an adult conversation. Absently.
Rayne hated when Gayle did that. Hated it. It infuriated her so much that she'd almost shouted the words: Stop it, dammit! I'm not that stinking cat of yours, or your neglected daughter. But she didn't. She'd never been able to express her feelings, the emotions that swirled within her. So instead, she screamed the words-in her head-where they bounced around, echoing over and over: Stop, stop, stop ...
Inside her head was as far as she could go these days-most days, actually. Lately, though, she'd wanted to crawl out, back into the world again. But thought better of it. It was safer just where she was. She gathered her hair in her hands and dragged it in front of her makeupless face, effectively escaping.
"Why does she do that?" Gayle whispered harshly, moving to brush the hair out of Rayne's face.
Dr. Dennis stopped her. "Fix your hair, Rayne," she instructed in a cool monotone.
Rayne emitted another baleful sigh and did as she was told.
"These are all manifestations of Rayne's trauma, Mrs. Davis, her unspoken need to hide, to disappear, get away from whatever is haunting her. They'll slowly stop when we get to the core of her problem."
Gayle shuddered despite the warmth. "What is her problem? It's been two months, Dr. Dennis," she complained, her voice taking on that clipped tone that often grated on Rayne's nerves. Rayne never told her about that, either. "I don't see any improvement." She adjusted her fitted gray linen jacket over her round hips. "Paul and Desi have been gone for almost six months. She was coming to terms with it. And then ... this. You came highly recommended-as the best." Gayle's voice hitched a notch as if she no longer believed in the laundry list of recommendations attached to Dr. Pauline Dennis's name, Rayne mused, as Gayle patted her head again and continued to push the chair.
Stop, stop, stop ...
Pauline nodded in doctorlike agreement. "I appreciate your concerns, Mrs. Davis. But you must understand that recovery from a mental breakdown is not like a broken limb where the doctors can give you a timetable for healing. At this point, I'm not quite sure what triggered Rayne's break. She won't talk. I do believe, however, that Rayne's problem dates prior to the deaths of her husband and daughter. Something that was never dealt with. The car accident was only a trigger for her suicide attempt at her father's house."
Gayle stopped short, jerking the chair to a halt. "I've known Rayne almost all my life, Doctor. If there had been some ... some underlying problem, something wrong, I would have known. She's always been well adjusted, hardworking. Everyone loves Rayne. You've got to do something to help her. We're closer than most sisters."
We were until I found out you were sleeping with my husband, Rayne reflected absently. But it doesn't matter much now-since Paul's dead. She blinked and her thoughts snapped to other things, their voices fading into the scenery.
What was worse than being patted on the head? Rayne wondered. Oh, yes-being spoken about as if you weren't there, she thought, and heard her laughter as the realization chimed in her head. They think I don't hear, I don't feel, don't think. It's not true. It isn't. I write it all down in my journal, every night when everyone is asleep and the nurses are busy skulking in the corners with the doctors ... whispering, always whispering. Giggles ... sometimes.
The soothing tones of Dr. Dennis drifted to her, scattering her disjointed thoughts. "Unfortunately, in cases like these we usually discover that the patient, over time, has developed the ability to function quite normally in society, developing a barrier against the world to hinder discovery of what is truly going on with them or often to protect themselves emotionally from further harm." Much as I have done, Dr. Dennis thought as she gazed across the landscape of the mentally ill.
"I just don't understand it. If something had been going on in Rayne's life, some secret or whatever, she would have told me. I know she would." She breathed heavily. "Has her father been here to see her?" Gayle asked as they rounded another curve.
Rayne sighed again.
Pauline stuck her hands into the pockets of her starched white smock, so stiff it barely moved. "No. He's called several times to check on her progress."
They came to the end of the path, the wrought-iron gates, like swirling black storm clouds, the cutoff point for insanity.
Gayle turned to Pauline, the honey brown of her eyes shimmering in the sunlight. "Please, Dr. Dennis, whatever you need to do to make Rayne better, just do it. You don't know the Rayne that I know, that the world was beginning to know. She's a wonderful, caring person with a brilliant filmmaking career ahead of her." Her voice faltered momentarily with emotion, like the sound of a stereo losing an instant of power.
Emotion, real or imagined-Rayne couldn't tell.
"Please help her," Gayle pleaded.
Pauline, reading her assurance cue from the watery look in Gayle's eyes, placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "We're going to do everything we can for Rayne, believe me. Time and patience are the great healers," she said, the line memorized from more than a decade of practiced repetition. "Give Rayne that," she added, the solemnity of her tone calming the jangles in Gayle's stomach.
Rayne almost believed the words. Time and patience. Almost.
Gayle blew out a breath, her bangs responding with a slight flutter. "I suppose none of us have a choice," she said. She came around to the front of the chair and bent down, placing her newly manicured hands on each side of Rayne's face.
"Rayne, honey, it's me, Gayle. Just say something, Rayne. Let me know you hear me."
You hurt me, Gayle, she screamed in her head. You were supposed to be my friend. I trusted you with my secrets, my fears. And you used them to screw my husband. You bitch. Did you hear that?
"We all love you, Rayne, and want you to get better. Your goddaughter, Tracy, misses you terribly."
I had a daughter once, Rayne recalled. Her name was Desiree. My baby. She loved me. But she's gone, too.
As Gayle leaned forward to kiss Rayne's cheek, she frantically raked her fingers through her hair from the nape of her neck, bringing the thick bush forward to shut out Gayle's face. But not before that instant of clarity beamed in her eyes. That instant of pure hatred and pain that reached down with cold fingers deep into Gayle's soul and squeezed, sending shockwaves of ice coursing through her veins. Gayle shuddered, rocking back on her haunches. A feeling of physical violation permeated her.
On shaky limbs she stood, forcing a smile.
"Fix your hair, Rayne," Pauline instructed.
Rayne did as she was told.
"Uh, I'll be back ... next week," Gayle muttered. "If you need anything, you have my number."
Pauline studied her for a moment. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, fine." She wanted to run. "I've got to go." She turned and hurried down the last few yards toward escape.
Pauline gripped the handles of the chair, turned it around, and headed back toward the facility. "Gayle's a good friend, Rayne," she said in that cool voice. "She loves you a great deal. And she's very worried about you."
Rayne sighed heavily.
Pauline learned from the weeks of working with Rayne that her sighs were an indication that she was tuning out a comment or situation. It was the only outward sign that she understood, or had any feelings about what was going on around her. At least it was a start. Although this case was difficult, Pauline was intrigued by Rayne Holland, intrigued in a way she was not with her other patients. She knew Rayne heard and understood, was aware of the world. Why wouldn't she speak? What had so traumatized her that she'd rather be silent, shrink into a tiny dark corner of her mind to hide? From what? Who? There was something about Rayne, a familiarity of spirit that drew Pauline to her, a part of her that understood the torment and fear. It was as if they were joined in some intangible way. Pauline shrugged off her moment of frustration and continued down the path, even as her resolve to uncover what lay beneath Rayne's veil of self-protection grew.
By degrees the natural light, the sounds of nature, the scent of flora and sweet rich earth began to diminish to a trickle, like a hose almost shut off but not quite. If Rayne squeezed her eyes shut and thought really hard, she could hold on to her piece of serenity for a few moments more. A few moments before the baby blue walls and the rustling of white stockings brushing against thick thighs, the metallic clang of medicine carts and food trays, the irritating sounds of Muzak pumped in from some unseen source and the cloying scent of disinfectant-a few moments before they overwhelmed her with the weight of their existence.
The moment was gone.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Rayne, for our regular session," Pauline said, pushing the chair back into Rayne's private room. Her haven.
Her room was located on the sixth floor of the facility-as it was called-a corner room that overlooked the garden below. Spacious, and painted in a soft peach-her favorite color-the perimeters at the top and bottom of the smooth wails were covered in a riotous fabric of bursting flowers that matched the short curtains, camouflaging the protective mesh that pressed erotically against the window.
In the morning, when the sun first rose above the trees, the light filtered through the mesh, casting shadows of boxes and diamonds across the walls. Sometimes Rayne would imagine that they were small, secret passageways. Passageways to freedom.
An oversized chintz chair, hugged by several throw pillows, sat on the gleaming wood floor. There was nothing in the room that was personal. No photos or mementos from her life. It was almost as if Rayne Holland's existence began when she entered Cedar Grove. But of course that was not true. She had a life, or at least she thought she did, until it came apart.
Rayne moved languorously across the room toward the window where a row of potted plants sat on the sill. Picking up the water jug, she meticulously watered each one.
Pauline watched, her hands hidden in the deep patch pockets of her smock. Sighing, she turned and quietly closed the door behind her. Rayne heard the click of the metal against metal. She lowered her head.
I know you're trying to help, Dr. Dennis, she thought, looking up to stare out across the sea of green below. I want you to help. I want to feel again, rise above the dark clouds that push me down, smothering me in nothingness. I'm tired of being tired.
Some days it took all she had to walk through those gates, face her friend, and see her ... that way. Oh, God. Her throat burned and tightened, her eyes filled as she drew closer to her home.
They'd been so close once, sharing everything, Gayle reminisced, a sad smile shadowing her coral-tinted lips. They'd met in fifth grade in Ms. Hubert's English class. They were both ten years old. Gayle hated English. Rayne was the brightest one in the class. Outside of class she was so quiet, hardly said a word to anyone. But there was something about Rayne that drew Gayle. Everyone said Rayne Mercer was weird, at least when she was younger. Gayle didn't think so. She just needed a friend.
One day at lunch in the school cafeteria, Gayle spotted Rayne sitting alone. As usual, the cafeteria was in a state of bedlam with the student body of three hundred making good use of their free time. The cacophony of raised voices, banging, slamming utensils and trays competed for superiority. Yet Rayne seemed oblivious to it all as she nibbled on her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sipped her milk right from the carton, peering sporadically over its red-and-white top to the sea of faces that swirled around her.
Excerpted from In My Bedroom by DONNA HILL Copyright © 2004 by Donna Hill. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Rayne Holland is a woman who appears to have it all: a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful five-year-old daughter, and a rapidly rising film career. What everyone doesn't realize is that behind closed doors, the picture is not so perfect. And in the recesses of Rayne's mind she harbors a dark past that even she is unaware of. Then tragedy strikes and Rayne slowly discovers that the story of her life is just beginning and nothing and no one are as they seem...
Gayle has been Rayne's best friend for years and always secretly wished that her life was more like Rayne's, from Rayne's wonderful husband to her burgeoning success. Gayle had been the one to introduce Paul to Rayne and a small part of her still regretted the day. Although Gayle married a good man and has a good life, she can't help feeling that the grass may be greener on the other side. Out of a deep sense of guilt, Gayle tries to help Rayne along the road to recovery, even at the expense of her own marriage . . .
Pauline, Rayne's psychologist, found herself drawn to the lovely woman from the moment they met. For in Rayne, she sees parts of herself, disturbing similarities and secret pains. Faced with the most daunting case of her career, Pauline must walk the thin line of medical ethics knowing that if she saves Rayne, she may lose everything but if she takes the risk she may save herself as well and unlock the secrets that would free them all.
Told with Donna Hill's grace, wit and uncompromising honesty, this novel explores the strength, passion, hope and healing of three extraordinary women.
Posted November 25, 2008
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This book had me captivated from the very first chapter. The writing style and plot of this story was great. Imagine: Losing everything you love (Your Husband, your only child and you sanity) all in the blink of eye, while watching and fearing everyone else who claims to love you. If your looking for something to read that makes you risk it all for happiness, along with the characters, this is the book for you.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2010
This book is definitely not a classic, with literary merit. I can't see myself or anyone else re-reading this book. The story is just barely interesting enough to keep you turning the pages. I only finished the book because it was my book club's selection.
Let me preface my comments with the fact that I'm a lifetime, AVID reader having read hundreds of books of all types. So when I compare this to other books I've read, this is not one I'll remember in 10-15 years. Because I'm always looking to discover great new authors, I was excited to read my first book by Donna Hill. But after reading this one I probably won't read more of her works unless someone convinces me this is her worst book.
Posted July 8, 2008
I love this book it pulled me in from the first page. i had never read donna hills books but now i'm am totally into her work. the whole novel just touched my heart and wouldnt let go i've actually read the book more than once because i loved it so much.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2006
Donna Hill has her own style, and you never know what she is going to touch on until you start reading. When I bought the book I thought I was going to read about a lot of steamy love scence. It is so sad to know that there are so many little girls who are being molested by their own relatives. I like how Donna makes us aware of live changings situations. I wanted to cry so many times with Rayne. She lost her mom @ 6 years old & then she really lost her dad as well. I wish she felt she could talk to her best freind Gayle. But in the end she was truly a best freind. Keep up your excellent work Donna.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2006
This book made me so mad at the end that I really threw it down when I was finished! I totally disagree with the other readers, the only reason I read this book until the end is because I never quit a book once I start it and I was hoping that something shocking would happen at the end. The whole story is PREDICTABLE I knew who was abusing her all along and I didn't care about her friend Gayle's problems or Robert's! I wasn't even sad about her husband and daughter because they weren't in the story long enough for me to care. I've read An Ordinary Woman by this author, that was a good book this was NOT!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 2, 2005
Posted January 23, 2005
I have read several of Donna Hill's books and have always found them to be exciting, the characters well-drawn and her themes always make a poignant statement about life. Reading Donna Hill is an adventure, a discovery about life's truths. I couldn't put the book down, and savored every word. I'm currently reading 'Divas, Inc.' and the book is hilarious.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 21, 2004
Ms. Hill received 5 stars for a story well written . . . that kept me on the edge of my sit. Donna Hill is an outstanding artist with a talent beyond belief. God has truly Blessed . . . continue to share your gift.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 3, 2004
This book was really good, I think the book was extremly well written. The author took her time telling the story to allow the readers to grasp what Rayne was going through. Let's face it the girl had some serious issues, but she hung in there and got throught it. Cudos to you Ms. Hill.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2004
Donna Hill has done it again. She has proven to the literary world that she can write about any subject with grace and passion. For her romance fans, don't worry, Hill is still at her best..a true writer. She takes on the subjects of incest, rape, family ties, and friendship in this novel. And she does a splendid job! In My Bedroom is a literary wonder! No one truly knows what goes on in another person's bedroom. But for Rayne Holland, the main character, her bedroom holds the truth to a not-so perfect life. Hill's character development of Rayne must have been very thought provoking. Because the words from Rayne made me cry laugh and smile. Any book club should be happy to read and discuss this book. I love it when a author can write more than one way, meaning they can write romance, drama, comedy, etc. And believe me Donna Hill is on her way to becoming one of those authors. Way to go Donna!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2004
In my bedroom is a brilliantly written tale. The main character, Rayne appears to be leading a satisfying life, but the reader quickly discovers that she had been a victim of incest and has blocked the memories of her tragic childhood. The tragic death of her husband and daughter places her back in the situation she had escaped.A suicide attempt lands her in a mental health facility and with the assistance of her psychiatrist, a woman who has also experienced the horrors of molestation, Rayne bravely peals away the layers of pain that she has masked for years. A must read for 2004.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2004
I thought that In My Bedroom by Donna Hill was amazing. I have always loved Donna Hill's books and this one juct adds to my collection of her books. New readers of her books will be addictedWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2004
I am a huge Donna Hill fan and have most of her books. 'In My Bedroom' was superb. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So much so that I finished it in 2 days. Rayne Holland overcame obstacles that the average woman probably would not. This is a well written book and was a stretch for Donna but as always, she pulled it off without a hitch! Kudos to you Donna and keep up the god work. New readers will be in awe!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2004
In My Bedroom is by far Donna's greatest work! Her use of metaphors is wonderful and refreshing! In My Bedroom takes the reader on an exciting journey through the psyche of two victims of incest, Rayne Holland and her psychiatrist Dr. Pauline Davis. I am deeply touched by this book; it is on my list of re-reads! I hope there will be a sequel!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2004
Posted December 26, 2003
Rayne Holland lives the perfect life. Her husband Paul adores her and their daughter Desiree loves her. On the professional front, her fourth film documentation is garnering all the awards. However, inside the façade, Rayne hides a dark secret, a place where she mentally vanishes when she fears something. Neither Paul nor her best friend Gayle Davis realizes how Rayne vanishes in plain sight. On the drive home from her latest award, Rayne informs Paul that she knows about his affair with Gayle. She understands why he would look elsewhere though she is angry at Gayle for being promiscuous with her husband. As Paul insists he loves her, a head-on collision occurs that kills Paul and Desiree. Six months later Rayne totally hides inside herself with only her sighs telling her psychiatrist Dr. Pauline Dennis that she is listening to the world around her. Pauline has her own problems, but wants to help Rayne recover. Also at her side is Gayle who risks her marriage to aid her best friend, but the only emotion displayed by Rayne is hatred towards her. <P>IN MY BEDROOM is a tremendous look at three people in varying stages of crippling mental prisons. Especially gripping to the audience is whether Rayne will leave her sanctuary she has parked her mind in. The lead trio rings true while the support cast including the deceased Paul enables the audience to look even deeper at predominantly Rayne, but to a lesser degree Gayle and Pauline. The angst level is beyond the stratosphere as readers feel the pain of the prime players and admire how Donna Hill invokes deep reactions from her audience. <P>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2009
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Posted April 11, 2011
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