The Innocence Treatment

The Innocence Treatment

by Ari Goelman


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A compelling YA debut thriller that is an electrifying, propulsive, and spine-tingling read. You may believe the government protects you, but only one girl knows how they use you.

"Nineteen Eighty-Four meets V for Vendetta in a thrilling package." —Kirkus Reviews

Lauren has a disorder that makes her believe everything her friends tell her—and she believes everyone is her friend. Her innocence puts her at constant risk, so when she gets the opportunity to have an operation to correct her condition, she seizes it. But after the surgery, Lauren is changed. Is she a paranoid lunatic with violent tendencies? Or a clear-eyed observer of the world who does what needs to be done?

Told in journal entries and therapy session transcripts, Ari Goelman's The Innocence Treatment is a collection of Lauren's papers, annotated by her sister long after the events of the novel. A compelling young adult debut thriller that is part speculative fiction and part shocking tell-all of genetic engineering and government secrets, Lauren's story is ultimately an electrifying, propulsive, and spine-tingling read.

Praise for The Innocence Treatment:

"A compelling plot structure, in which her sister has compiled Lauren's journal entries, doctor's records, and video notes, will instantly pique readers' curiosity. . . . A fresh take on futuristic psychological thrillers and an easy sell to reluctant readers." —School Library Journal

"Goelman’s surveilled America, set fifteen years in the future, paints a bleak possible reality of government overreach through limitations of free speech, invasion of privacy, and unethical medical experimentation. Readers looking to jump into government conspiracies will find a fresh take with this teenager who gains the ability to fight back, rebel against authority, and expose government corruption." —VOYA

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626728806
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: 10/17/2017
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Ari Goelman is the author of the middle-grade novel The Path of Names. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his family.

Read an Excerpt



Monday, September 1, 2031

Dear Dr. Corbin,

You said it was really important that I start a journal so you could tell whether my brain starts getting better after the operation tomorrow. The thing is, I have no idea what to write. So I decided I would start by writing you a thank-you note. I hope that's okay.

Thank you soooo much! My father says you're like this super-important scientist, and here you are spending all this time helping me. I never had the guts to tell you this to your face, but you sort of remind me of one of the fairies from the old version of Sleeping Beauty. The wise one, I mean — not one of the funny ones who keep bickering over what color Princess Aurora's dress should be. I think her name's Flora.

Have you seen the old 2-D Walt Disney movies, Dr. Corbin? My friends think I'm stupid old-fashioned, but I've watched all the old Disney movies like a million times. I watch new movies with my friends, too, but I don't usually get them. Not really. There's always someone bad pretending to be good or maybe someone who seems mean, but who's actually nice deep down or something. Honestly, most of the movies I see, I don't even try to follow the story. I just look at the clothes. People wear such nice clothes in movies.

But the old Disney movies are easy to understand — even for me. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad. Sometimes there's something a little tricky, like in Aladdin when the bad wizard pretends to be an old man for a little bit, but I can almost always figure those bits out after a few times through.

Sorry if I'm rambling, Dr. Corbin! You said I should talk about what's going on in my head, but all I can think about is what's going to happen tomorrow. And you — of all people — already know about that. My dad said there's no one in the world who knows more about what's wrong with me than you, and that you're the one who figured out that I didn't just have a weird variant of Williams syndrome, like all the other doctors always said. So I feel a little dumb telling you what's going to happen tomorrow.

But okay. I'm sitting on my bed, talking this into my tablet, and all I'm thinking about is that tomorrow my parents will drive me back to your lab. One of the doctors who works for you is going to give me drugs to make me go to sleep, and then you're going to cut open my head. My skull and everything. You said you're not going to operate on my brain, not exactly, but cutting a little window in my skull seems pretty close, don't you think?

Shoot, Dr. Corbin. I just thought of something. Are you going to have to cut my hair before the operation? I wish I had asked that super-nice orderly — Eric — who showed me around last time I was at your office.

Eric took me to the room where I'll be staying and the room where you'll be doing the operation. He even asked if I wanted to see the tools you were going to use to open me up. He told me you have a special chain saw to cut through my skull, like a smaller version of what my dad would use to cut up a log. (Eric doesn't know my father, or he would know my father has never, in his whole life, cut up a log.) After Eric told me about the chain saw, he laughed and said he was kidding, but I don't know if he was really kidding or if he was just saying he was kidding to make me feel better. I'm really bad at telling stuff like that.

Which is why, even with the whole head-cutting-open thing, I'm super- excited about tomorrow. Because afterward, I won't be stupid anymore. Not that I'm stupid, exactly, but you know what I mean. I'll get when people are joking. I'll be able to ... what did you call it? Draw inferences. That will be awesome. I love so many people so much — it's going to be amazing to really understand them.

Your friend,

Lauren C. Fielding



December 2, 2031

The subject, Lauren Fielding, is a sixteen-year-old girl. Skinny, verging on gaunt, but muscular. Postoperative scars still visible through crew-cut hair. A far cry from her preoperative photos three months ago, in which she was a slightly plump redhead with shoulder-length hair, smiling broadly in every picture.

According to her medical chart, she remanded herself to the custody of this facility twenty-three days ago, about two months after being treated here for a preexisting disability. Neither the details of her initial disability, nor the course of treatment, are entirely clear to me, but as far as I can tell, her disability had both cognitive and behavioral components. (Her medical papers repeatedly mention "modified oligodendrocytes" — I have no real idea what that means. I know oligodendrocytes are a type of brain cell that connect different parts of the brain, but I can't imagine that it's possible to deliberately modify such tiny, poorly understood cells. Ah, to be a neuroscientist instead of a humble psychologist ...)

I have sent Dr. Corbin a note asking for more details regarding Ms. Fielding's treatment and case history, but I'm not entirely sure I'll understand any additional details she provides. It seems to me that Corbin is operating somewhere on the frontiers of brain science with her treatment of Ms. Fielding, while my understanding is stuck in 2024 or so.

What I do know is that Ms. Fielding is currently exhibiting pronounced signs of paranoid delusions. I believe these delusions are responsible for the multiple violent episodes she's initiated since coming to this facility. Due to previous assaults on past therapists and orderlies (including a particularly violent one on the orderly Eric Schafer, who she mentions so favorably in her first journal entry), she is heavily restrained when we meet.

Transcribed from intake interview:

Hello, Lauren. I'm Dr. Brechel. I'm here to —

What's today?

Tuesday. Why do you —

No. The date. What's today's date?

Oh. Ah. December 2.


Is there a reason that the date's important to you?

(silence, then a slow, wry nod) Trying to prepare myself, I guess. I scheduled my post to go live on December 4, so I figure they'll kill me soon after.

Who will kill you?

(shrugs) Dr. Corbin. Paxeon. The Department. Anyone who wants the Emergency Act to be extended. They're all going to be pretty mad.

Why's that?

I arranged for some things to go public, things that I don't think they're going to be very happy about. Details about what they did to me.

And what did they do to you?

I don't want to be the person who tells you. You seem like a nice guy. I see you're divorced, but I'm guessing you have kids, right?

(NoteI would swear that my face showed nothing here, but the subject nodded to herself.)

Sorry. I couldn't resist. Sasha calls it my Sherlock Holmes trick. It was easy — you keep touching your ring finger like you're expecting to find a ring to fidget with, but there's nothing there. The kids were just a guess, but your eyes widened a bit when I mentioned them, so I'm guessing I was right. No custody, I assume, if you're living at Paxeon, which of course you are, as I don't think anyone could be as clean-shaven as you if they weren't living super-close to where they work, and I know most of the staff here lives on-site. Still, you must care about the kids or you wouldn't have reacted quite so much when I mentioned them.

So, yeah, I'm not going to give you any details. Not today. I don't want to make your kids orphans. If you decide to stick around, you might want to take out some life insurance.

I understand you've attacked a few of your therapists.

Oh, I'm sorry — did you think I was threatening you? How would that work, with me in my ankle cuffs and handcuffs? Believe me, Dr. Brechel, I'm the least of your worries. My advice to you is quit while you can. They'd still let you walk away at this point. Probably. It can't hurt to try.



Friday, September 26, 2031

Dear Dr. Corbin,

Well, here I am, back at home. It's a beautiful autumn day. The sun is shining, the leaves are changing color, and I'm stuck inside. I wish my head didn't hurt so much. I love walking through the woods on this kind of fall day, with the leaves swirling down around me.

I've been home for a week now, which I guess means it's been more than three weeks since the operation. I don't remember the operation at all. One second I was lying down talking to you while another doctor fiddled with the big drug machine. The next second, I was half-asleep in another room with the world's worst headache.

I didn't totally wake up until like a week after the operation. I guess you had me on superstrong painkillers so I wouldn't be too uncomfortable while the big cuts on my head healed. Thanks for that! Though — ugh — I have to tell you I freaked when I got my first look in a mirror after the operation. I look like girl Frankenstein, with stitches and metal staples all over my scalp.

That was the worst part of preparing for the operation — when Eric shaved my head. Eric had been super-nice all day, helping me get ready, but it was still hard to sit there in the waiting room and feel the electric razor moving over my scalp.

I had terrific hair. Red, glossy, and down to my shoulders. And now I don't even have a crew cut. Just bandaged skin and a little stubble.

Like I said, I was totally hazy for the first week or so. I sort of remember Eric feeding me and washing me. I think I remember you examining me a few times, and I definitely remember when you told my parents they could take me home last week.

Now, three weeks after the operation, my head is finally starting to feel better, but I still get this killer headache when I move too fast or stare at anything for too long. Just talking to my computer for these few minutes has made my head hurt worse. I'll try again tomorrow.

Your friend,




December 3, 2031

Transcribed from interview:

Good morning, Lauren.

What's the date?

December 3.

Any announcements on the Emergency Act being allowed to expire?

Nothing that I've seen. Dr. Corbin mentioned that you're very concerned about the expiry of the Emergency Act. Tell me about —

(subject interrupts) I'm concerned? (laughter) I'd say she was the concerned one. I mean, which of us has a research project specifically devoted to extending it?

(more laughter) Sorry. I think they shot me full of some drug to make me talk to you, and it's making me laugh more than usual. Or maybe you're just a lot funnier than those Paxeon bastards they had in here before. With them, the drugs just made me want to kick their faces in.

Yes, I've seen their medical records. You broke Dr. Meyers's nose and knocked out two of Dr. Stewart's teeth.

I'm not a big fan of Paxeon flunkies. I think you and I will get along fine.

Just to be clear — I work for Paxeon as much as any of your former therapists did. As of last week, I'm a full-time Paxeon employee — Dr. Corbin insisted that I clear my very busy practice and focus only on you.

(laughter) You're no Paxeon flunky. You're not smug enough, and — no offense — your clothes aren't expensive enough. That's why I'm worried about you. Dr. Corbin doesn't strike me as someone who tolerates a lot of leftovers. Look. If you're determined to stick around, at the very least upload your notes to one of the Swedish platforms. You know, where they'll publish your blog if you don't log in for a certain number of days. Just give Paxeon a reason to keep you alive. That's all I'm saying.

Dr. Corbin has no intention of hurting me, nor of hurting you. On the contrary, she worked very hard to find a therapist she thought could help you. Why would she bring me here to focus exclusively on you if she had any interest in harming you?

Huh. Gee. She must be a saint after all. (laughter) Sorry. Sorry. I'm just imagining nuns lighting candles in front of a picture of Dr. Corbin's evil little face. You know — like one of those paintings where the saint's face has a halo behind it. Saint Patricia of the gigantic bank account.

Hmm. At any rate — if you agree, we'll be meeting twice a day for at least the next month. Dr. Corbin feels very responsible for your condition, and is sparing no cost to —

(Note — Subject lapsed into hysterical laughter, so much so that I was on the verge of summoning orderlies when she began to calm down.)

Oh my God. I really can't tell — is it the drugs or are you the funniest man I've ever met? If it's the drugs, I totally get why people abuse this stuff. Of course Corbin feels responsible! She is responsible for my condition.

So you blame Dr. Corbin for your current situation?

Obviously I blame Dr. Corbin. And, hey, you want to know one reason why Corbin was so keen to find me a therapist I would talk to?

Yes, I do.

Like I told you, I have everything set to be posted online December 4. Tomorrow. All the journal entries that I wrote — the real journal entries, I mean — not the edited crap that I sent Corbin. Plus all the Department memos I stole ... everything is going to be posted. Corbin must be desperate to keep that from happening. That's why she hired you. To pry the password out of me before it's too late.

I see. You believe Dr. Corbin wants me to insinuate myself into your good graces in the interests of stopping your information from being posted on the Internet.


Which is set to happen tomorrow, correct? So she thought I could somehow divine your password in two days or less?

I didn't tell her exactly when I'd set it to go live. Just early December sometime.

All right. Let me propose an experiment. Don't tell me your password. Let's see what happenstomorrow. If I come back and we continue our conversation as usual, even with your information up on the Internet, then perhapswe can agree that you've misjudged Dr. Corbin's intentions.

In the meantime, allow me to help you separate fact from fiction. I have neither the ability nor the inclination to somehow ferret information from you. I'm here to assess the stability of your condition, help you become conscious of your own mental state, and ultimately prepare you to rejoin society.

Oh. Jeez. Really? My mistake. I guess I should just relax, then, huh?

(long silence)

We'll talk again tomorrow, okay?

Whenever you want, Dr. Brechel. Just keep the laughs coming.



Monday, October 6, 2031

Hi Dr. Corbin,

My mom gave me all your messages and told me I had to start writing more journal entries for you so you could tell if I'm getting better. Thanks for checking in on me! I'm sorry I didn't send you anything last week. Honestly, I've been feeling pretty ragged. I'm still not feeling so great, but today my mom let my friends Riley and Gabriella visit, so at least I have something to tell you about.

Riley and Gabriella and I have been best friends since forever. You might even know Riley's father — Blair Halston. My father says you and the rest of the people at Paxeon work really closely with the Department, and Mr. Halston is a super-bigwig at the Department.

Riley walked in and sat on the side of my bed. "Lauren! I can't believe you chopped off all your hair."

"Not me," I said. "The hospital orderly."

"It looks good," Gabriella said. She put a bag full of papers on top of my desk. "You look like a sexy punk."

"Hey, thanks!" Up until then, I'd been thinking I looked horrible.

Gabriella nudged the bag with her foot. "We already have a ton of assignments. I can't believe how much harder eleventh grade is. With college visits and stuff, it's like we have no time for anything but school this year."

"You should have had the operation in May," Riley said. "That way you could have skipped all your finals."

"No," Gabriella said. "They would have made her take finals in July, and she wouldn't have had any summer vacation at all. Anyway, September is always the worst month of school. I wish I got to miss it, too."

My mother swept into the room carrying a vase full of flowers. "Don't be too jealous, girls. Lauren's going to have to make up all the work she misses. These are beautiful, by the way. Look at what your friends brought you, Lauren."

"Thanks guys," I said.

"Riley paid." Gabriella pushed some of my stuffed animals aside and flopped down on my beanbag. "But I helped pick them out."

"I didn't pay," Riley said. "My father put me in touch with a florist friend of his, that's all."

"Tell him thanks," I said. It's great having a friend whose father is high up in the Department. Last year for Riley's birthday, he got the three of us tickets to an FG concert that was sold out months in advance.

Riley shrugged. "Just imagine if you were a friend of Cedar's — your mom would have needed a dozen vases."


Excerpted from "The Innocence Treatment"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Ari Goelman.
Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
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.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Editor's Introduction,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – September 1, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 2, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – September 26, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 3, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 6, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 7, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 4, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 14, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 4, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 16, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 5, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 20, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 6, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 22, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 7, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 7, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 23, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 8, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 27, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 28, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 9, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – October 30, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 10, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – November 1, 2031,
Video Clip #1,
Video Clip #5,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – November 2, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – November 3, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – November 5, 2031,
Case Notes of Dr. Finlay Brechel – December 11, 2031,
Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – November 9, 2031,
Editor's Note: Interlude,
From the Prison Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – December 9, 2031,
From the Prison Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – December 12, 2031,
From the Prison Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – December 13, 2031,
From the Prison Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – December 16, 2031,
From the Prison Journal of Lauren C. Fielding – December 17, 2031,
About the Author,

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