Melody Carlson’s Mental Health Masterpiece: Finding Alice

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As previously mentioned on this blog, Melody Carlson is a superb author of teen and adult fiction. Many have been drawn to the gentle way that she weaves the Gospel story into her novels. She believes that Christians have just as many issues as the next person, and that, at times, some hurt others with their exclusivity. Carlson is a rare author who dares to admit that the church body has flaws. In her novel, Finding Alice, she shows how the church body can hurt a person or persons by not being willing to help them, by putting their convenience and traditionalism above someone else’s needs. For this reason, and others like it, Finding Alice is Carlson’s best novel. The plot and plot twists are performed flawlessly and hold the attention of the reader. Carlson’s brave undertaking of this difficult subject matter make this novel worth a read and definitely worth promoting. Not many people would be willing to write about this topic in a real-life context, nor would they make the effort to portray it in an accurate light. ¬†Finding Alice deals with subjects such as mental illness, schizophrenia, family traits, life choices, the consequences that come along with these, the exclusivity of small churches, estranged family relationships. loneliness, fear, friendship, brotherly love, and the healing power of God’s love for us. The opening chapters introduce the reader to the main character, Alice Laxton. Alice is a senior in college, she is a brilliant student, confounding her professors with her knowledge and ability to learn new concepts. Alice has a normal life, or so she believes. However, little does she know that there is a dark secret from her estranged family’s past, one that they would all like to forget. You see, Alice’s grandmother had schizophrenia. Being an early case, no one knew how to treat her properly, so, they locked her away…..and she eventually died alone, lost in her own mind. Alice lives in a typical college housing facility, alone, and in total control of her life; she is independent and free. One day Alice meets a new friend, her name is Amelia. Amelia claims to be Alice’s guardian angel, and tells her that she is here to keep her safe from the outside world. Alice wonders how she got into the apartment, Amelia brushes this aside and begins teaching Alice all sorts of new things. Alice shouldn’t eat the food in her home, it’s not safe. She shouldn’t even drink the water, its probably poisonous. Alice listens to Amelia, and, slowly, she begins to fall into the hands of her own mind. Some time later, Alice’s mother discovers how far gone her daughter has become. She is shocked to discover Alice’s condition, and makes the decision to bring her home to nurse her back to health. Alice soon discovers, with the help of Amelia, that nowhere is safe, not even her own home. Her mother, goaded on by friends from her cultist church who believe Alice is possessed by an evil spirit, makes the decision to send Alice to an institution. For months Alice lurks in a drug-induced haze that she believes to be Wonderland, but somewhere in the back of her mind she knows she should escape this place of darkness. Eventually an opportunity arrives, and she is finally free from her prison of medication. Sadly, she realizes that she is now on the streets, alone and afraid…..and still in a prison in her mind. Alice makes new friends, real ones, that Amelia doesn’t like, and discovers that the streets are much more accommodating than Wonderland. Eventually she finds a sick, abandoned kitten and names him Cheshire. Her friends tell her of a woman named Faye who takes in sick cats from the streets, so she takes him there. Little does she know that Faye also takes in people in need, and loves them unconditionally, just like Jesus. Will Alice escape the prison in her mind? Will she find healing through God’s love? To answer these questions, read the book!;) Finding Alice would make an excellent Christian drama film, but in the wrong hands it could be disastrous. I believe the best course of action for Christian novels such as these would be to include the author in the film-making to ensure that a quality story-line would be upheld.


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