The Decompression Palms

Fiction - Literary
128 Pages
Reviewed on 09/27/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

The life and work of Anna Alexis Michel are deeply marked by two significant events: the loss of her mother when she was not even six years old and her burn-out. She regularly bears witness to these events, obsessed with "transforming her grief into projects."
Anna lives and works in Miami Beach, Florida.
She is a talented Artist (author, photographer, and playwright) and French teacher. She has a Maîtrise Arts, Lettres, Langues (FLE) from the Université des Antilles for which she was awarded the Bourse Jacques Brion.
She also has a Master of Laws from UCL and degrees from Sotheby's Institute of Art and Raindance. She is the author of three novels, Le peignoir aux alouettes, Irma et les autres(Finaliste Prix Plume du Jury des plumes francophones 2020) and The Decompression Palms, and a writing guide available in French and English, The Narrative Journey.
As a photographer, she was exhibited in multiple galleries and was one of the winners of the End-FGM award. Her work is available in portfolios such as Vogue, Art+Commerce, or Getty Images.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

The Decompression Palms by Anna Alexis Michel is an intriguing novel set in Florida. The story opens with a poignant scene as Antoine and Line have breakfast together in the kitchen. They sit side by side, facing the palm trees like most Sundays. This time, however, is not like the other Sundays. Today, Antoine is leaving with most of his clothes to move to another apartment. The following chapter shifts to the story of an old lady who wants to commit suicide. Told from Line’s point of view, the old lady is an economist diagnosed with a crippling degenerative disease. These two emotional stories are woven together. The result is an enigmatic plot slowly revealed at the end of the narrative.

Anna Alexis Michel’s The Decompression Palms is an absorbing read with a plot that gradually unfolds in every chapter. This is a novel where the reader is forced to retrace the progress of the main plot. The book is a thought-provoking tale with sharp dialogue and a keen narrative. It is a modern love story that should appeal to anyone who has loved, lost, or pined for romance. The setting is a perfect fit for the narrative, just like the languid pace of the novel. I found the characters complicated but still realistic, which shows the actual depth of their personalities. The author's unique tone and style make the novel highly interesting. The conflict, external and internal, is overwhelming at times. I highly recommend this book!

Pikasho Deka

Line and Antoine were meant to be together, or that's what Line thought. A woman accustomed to golf courses, fancy retreats, and French new-wave cinema, Line finds herself heartbroken when Antoine leaves her seemingly out of the blue, forcing her to contemplate what went wrong. Meanwhile, she becomes friends with an elderly woman who wants to commit suicide to avoid having to succumb to her degenerative disorder. Throughout the narrative, Line looks back at the momentous times of her relationship with Antoine, and how, despite his successful career and seemingly wholesome life, he could never get rid of his flaws. A particular memory sticks in her mind when during a retreat with Antoine and their mutual friends, Line was inappropriately treated by one of Antoine's friends. The Decompression Palms is a slice-of-life literary drama novella by Anna Alexis Michel.

Life is full of surprises and rarely ever turns out the way you think it would. That's how you feel after reading Anna Alexis Michel's The Decompression Palms. Using a non-linear and somewhat surreal narrative structure, the author puts readers into the mind of a woman trying to understand how her seemingly perfect relationship fell apart. A character-driven drama to its core, this is slow-burn storytelling at its finest. Line is an intriguing protagonist full of heartbreak who tries to turn back the clock to understand why her lover suddenly left her. If you enjoy thematically rich narratives with a focus on the primary character, you will get a lot out of this book.

K.C. Finn

The Decompression Palms is a work of fiction penned in the literary style and falling into the interpersonal drama subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was written by Anna Alexis Michel. Creating a unique narrative structure that begins at the breakdown of a relationship and retraces its steps back through the events that caused it, the author tells the tumultuous tale of Antoine and Line. Lyrically told and charged with powerful emotions, Line tells the story of how she has to decompress from the relationship stage by stage to stop the feelings from totally overwhelming her.

Anna Alexis Michel had me hooked from the very opening of this novel and her gorgeous writing style wouldn’t let me go until I had experienced the full range of heartbreak, solace, and acceptance from her protagonist’s heart. Line was a superbly penned character who drives the story forward with her need for closure, and she is the ideal storyteller to take us through a cleverly penned reverse narrative that plays out almost like a romantic and bittersweet mystery novel. Although we know the story’s end (or at least think we understand it from the start), there are plenty of surprises and revelations that slot into place as we progress, and the lexical choices create a visually stunning atmosphere that brings every face, place, and feeling to life. I would not hesitate to recommend The Decompression Palms to all readers who enjoy high-quality dramatic literature with pathos, emotional realism, and skillful wordplay.

Adanna Ora

In The Decompression Palms, Anna Alexis Michel describes the remarkable tale of an elderly woman who planned her suicide. After retiring after 45 years as an administrator, the woman is diagnosed with a degenerative disease that would render her completely useless when the effects start to kick in. She decided that the best thing to do was to end her own life while she was still healthy since she was afraid of becoming disabled and powerless, especially without close friends and family nearby. You'll be curious to learn how she did it, I promise! The Decompression Palms also tells the tale of Line and Antoine, a couple that faces many difficulties in their union, particularly because of Antoine's emotional instability. Find out what happens to them and if they can overcome their problems.

Anna Alexis Michel's use of narration is particularly unusual in that Line tells the story of the elderly woman while the couple's story is told from an omniscient point of view. The author delivers the stories in a very straightforward and precise manner, which helps to sustain the reader’s interest. While reading, I also picked up several new words, which helped in increasing my vocabulary. The Decompression Palms teaches readers a lot about relationships, particularly how to distinguish between healthy and destructive relationships. The plot of this book is also a distinguishing feature because the stories are told either from the beginning or the end. Readers will enjoy and gain valuable insights from The Decompression Palms. I commend the author.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

The Decompression Palms seems to be a literary love story told in two time frames, but it becomes so much more. Line and Antoine became a couple from a set of strange circumstances. Anna Alexis Michel begins with Antoine’s departure, and through flashbacks, the reader catches glimpses of Line’s life with Antoine. There are sweet recollections, but then there are other memories that do not paint Antoine in the best light. As the novel winds to a close, the story shifts, and the reader gathers more information about Line and Antoine.

Anna Alexis Michel flips between the past circumstances of Line, the main character of the story, and the challenges and romance between Line and Antoine. Unlike traditional love stories, the author moves back in time instead of chronologically leading her readers through the affair. The dual timeline may be hard for some readers to appreciate, but as Line’s true character is revealed, I found it justified and more intriguing. At first, it was hard to form a connection to the characters, but as the story is told in reverse, the characters become more defined as the reader moves through the pages. Michel made a reference to the Gordian Knot in her prologue, which makes me think that her book was carefully planned before she penned the first sentence. The book was well-written, with vivid imagery and beautifully timed execution. I recommend The Decompression Palms to experienced readers who enjoy carefully crafted prose, a hint of intrigue, and untraditional love stories.