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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Denial by Remington Arquette is a deep, emotional dive into the human psyche exploring mental illness and psychological systems for dealing with grief and trauma. Katherine Baird grew up in an environment where all material wealth and needs were more than met. Her dominating and manipulative father, for whom his daughter was his “little sweetie pie,” was determined to shield the young Katherine from any influences that might corrupt her or threaten her safety. Consequently, Katherine’s childhood was populated by servants, her parents, and just one close friend, Adell. When Katherine was still very young, a traumatic event would change the young girl’s carefree and idyllic lifestyle, not to mention her mental state, forever. Her family embarked on a program of therapy and drugs that would ensure the young girl never had to deal with the pain and grief of her trauma. For Katherine, her first memory was now of her first day at high school and all the previous pain was firmly locked away in her subconscious until she was old enough to deal with it maturely. Her father’s manipulation and schemes would continue to control and determine his daughter’s actions well into adulthood but was the day of reckoning coming? Would those childhood memories remain buried forever?
Denial is one of those books that gently sucks you into what seems like an improbable situation and slowly builds up your understanding and compassion. Author Remington Arquette has done an amazing job of taking an unlikely scenario and creating a plot that twists and turns itself in imaginative ways until the reader has bought into the narrative. I appreciated the subtle plot twists that cast doubt one way or another and opened up speculation in the reader’s mind, especially as it related to the nature of the trauma and how it occurred. The characters are deliberately overdrawn, which allows the reader to accept some of the unusualness of the scenarios depicted. I particularly appreciated the nature of the father and his almost dual personality, especially when it came to protecting his precious “little sweetie pie.” All the characters play a crucial role in Katherine’s development and her coming to terms with the past that has plagued her entire life. The author has done a tremendous job in managing to mesh all these disparate characters with their agendas into such a readable and fascinating storyline. I particularly appreciated that although everyone involved in Katherine’s life and her rehabilitation as a functioning adult was so different and approached the task from differing perspectives, all were ultimately interested in and concerned with Katherine’s wellbeing. The use of different perspectives in the writing also gave the narrative much-needed depth and breadth, which adds to the reading pleasure and identification with the story. This is an easy-to-read enjoyable novel that I can highly recommend.