Kanapolis Fog Publishing Emporium, $11.95, ISBN 978-0-6151-4714-7
Contemporary Fiction, 2007
Michele LeBlanc’s Belt Buckles & Pajamas is a quirky, sometimes heartwarming story of a young woman’s stay in a sanitarium. Daphne, our narrator, is a troubled person who finds herself in the company of a few misfits, all very different people with very different reasons for their stay in the sanitarium.
A therapist named Andie shows up one day. She’s very different from the usually cold and not-so-nice Dr Martin so our gang don’t really know what to make of her at first. Andie however will patiently play the John Keating figure until Daphne and the rest eventually respond to her in various ways, often but not always for the better.
I find it hard to do justice to this book when it comes to describing my reaction to it. The best I can describe this book is perhaps Benny & Joon meets Dead Poets Society but that’s not an entirely accurate description either. This book deals with Daphne’s coming to terms with herself and her past as well as her changing relationships with her circle of friends in the sanitarium. The best I can say is that this is a very interesting and fascinating story from the first page to last.
As fascinating and entertaining as I find the book, however, I have to confess that I wish the author has done more to explore her characters’ psyche. Daphne still remains a question mark to me by the last page. I wish I know more about her past, for example, because such details will help me appreciate the character better. As much as Ms LeBlanc offers me a peek into the always intriguing psyche of Daphne, I feel that there is still a distance between me and Daphne.
Nonetheless, my quibbles aside, I find Belt Buckles & Pajamas a most engaging vicarious adventure to a place that I don’t usually frequent.