West is a high school senior who has everything going for him until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, West is terrified and alone. Until he meets Olivia. She’s the girl next door—sort of. A patient in the room next to his, only Olivia can tell what West is thinking, and only Olivia seems to know that the terrible dreams he’s been having are not just a result of his medication. Yet as West comes to rely on Olivia—to love her, even—certain questions pull at him: Why has Olivia been in the hospital for so long? And what does it mean that she is at the center of his nightmares? But the biggest question of all comes when West begins to recover and learns that the mysterious girl he’s fallen in love with has a secret he could never have seen coming.
Blink once for yes
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to wake up and realize that you can no longer move, no longer talk, and no longer in charge of your decisions? Well, if you decide to give this a try, and you most definitely should, you’ll know the experience first hand. It’s a chilling thought, for sure, but my God, this was an eye opener and one heck of a story. Wow. Just WOW.
The entire tale is told from West’s POV. Though the concept of having a story told from the first person perspective isn’t new, the biggest difference is that West is in a coma. Everyone around him, from his nurses, to his family and friends, all believe that he can’t comprehend what’s happening around him. Boy, were they ever wrong. West knows something is amiss when he can’t move because he’s strapped down in bed. Plus, he realizes that he can’t talk because he’s on a ventilator that is aiding him with his breathing. He doesn’t remember much of how he got there, but he knows he’s waken up to a nightmare situation. Until one day, Olivia walks into his room.
Olivia is also a patient and her room in situated right next to West’s. She strolls into West’s room with her IV pole and immediately begins to talk to him, like she knows he’s listening.
“You were on a mountain bike when you had an accident, I heard your parents talking about it.” She watched my face. “Do you remember?” She stared hard at my face, like I could answer. “Just blink once for yes and twice for no,” she sighed, exasperated.
I blink once, then blinked twice as fast. Was I blinking? It felt like I was…
This is how West and Olivia communicate to one another. As West slowly begins to recover, she even starts encouraging him to use a dry erase board. She often visits West in his room, keeping him company. When West begins to have strange nightmares, Olivia is often there afterwards to help calm him. He begins to count on her presence to help him through this strange and frightening ordeal. He doesn’t know what he would do without her and wants nothing more than to be with her. But when his parents make a decision and agree to a radical operation that might benefit him, Olivia is reluctant and starts to distance herself from West. Why was she acting like this? Doesn’t she know that this is his chance to get better and that he’s determined to get out of this situation, for himself and for her? He promises her that he will return for her.
This was such an emotionally packed story and it’s pretty clear that I’ve never read anything like this before in my life. As an RN, I appreciated the story coming from a patient’s perspective. It let me see and feel what it’s like to be in their shoes. Eye opening is all I can come up with. My heart ached for West. I lost count how many times my eyes got watery. I even outright cried towards the end. I recommend this to anyone willing to take a chance on an emotionally packed story.