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The Blind Affect


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A tale of triumph over trauma, your life always makes a difference, even if you're not aware

Jonah, 61, his health failing, looks back on his life. Severn, in therapy, tries to remember those missing years. Both children’s mothers drink, and shirk responsibilities to do so. Fortunately, they both have best friends--Jonah has Morty and Severn has Maribel—and these friendships help them through the hardship.

Always too alone, Jonah had survived birth; his twin brother had not, and his mother is determined never to let him do anything dangerous—or even, really, anything. Finally at 13 Jonah has a friend, another loner, Morty. Jonah tries out for basketball, but the other boys make fun of his body odour, call him ‘Stinky’ and in the locker room shove him into the shower. The doctor says he has Bromhidrosis. In high school, he smokes, drinks and snorts, and he’s been getting into trouble. He’s in and out of rehab.

Jonah is challenged by his therapist to go the cinema, but once there, he witnesses a crazed shooting. He goes on probably the most awkward first date I’ve ever read about, but the girl, June, an exotic dancer, likes him, anyway, and they settle down to a happy life. Right in the midst of Jonah’s happiness, a series of tragedies send Jonah back to his addictions.

Severn is abducted by sex traffickers and locked in a basement. By 15 she’s pregnant by one of the paedophile johns, and suffers a forced abortion. The girls and boys there are given new names, but they etch their real ones into the cement block in the corner, proof that they existed. They rehearse a legend of a girl who once got out. Severn, herself, remains captive for 15 years.

At 31, Severn is expected to manage the others. One day, there’s some kind of incident happening upstairs, and her master, Dominus, wants her to kill them. She refuses, and violence ensues. And so, even her rescue is traumatic. Severn, also, triumphs over her trauma, going to school and qualifying as a social worker, though she has nightmares and still can’t—doesn’t want to-- remember the missing years.

Answering his emails, Darnell plans his talk at an upcoming event about his experience growing up in an abusive home. He’s received an email from Severn, whom his charity had helped, wanting to meet him. Here, there is a fantastic twist in the story (no spoilers) as we suddenly understand Darnells’ role in all this.

In the end, the three characters’ stories come together in the most serendipitous way, and Jonah discovers that, far from living a useless life as he had thought, his actions have had a ‘blind affect’ on many people.

Reading about a person with an unusually bad body odour is a first, and I found that interesting, because I know someone like that.

I found a few mistakes in the editing, but the writing is good. I really hope no reader experiences either the abuse, or the parental neglect that so often turns a blind eye to abuse, like the characters in this book. But for anyone with this kind of experience, it might prove educative or cathartic. The tale of these folks’ woes is told with heart and, amazingly, without self-pity. Jonah is a bit of a whinge, but who could blame him? It’s certainly heartening later in the tale when the characters start finding some happiness in their lives. This book should be a lesson to anyone contemplating suicide that, not only can they survive, but their lives can make a difference to others, sometimes without their even trying. There is always purpose.

Reviewed by

Susie Helme is an American ex-pat living in London, after sojourns in Tokyo, Paris and Geneva, with a passion for ancient history and politics, and magic, mythology and religion. After a career in mobile communications journalism, she has retired to write historical novels and proofread/edit novels.

2021, February - Jonah at Sixty-One

About the author

Hi, I'm a multi-genre author whose interest in past lives has found footing in many of my novels from science fiction to dystopian fiction to upmarket/literary fiction and now crime/thrillers. It's not always driving the plot, but almost always an underlying theme. view profile

Published on June 22, 2021

80000 words

Contains graphic explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Literary Fiction

Reviewed by