419. Alternative READ: Reflections from Shadow ~ Malcolm Watts ~ Trafford Publishing: Reviewed by Alma H. Bond, Ph.D.

Title: Reflections from Shadow
Author: Malcolm Watts
Website of Author: http://authorsden.com/visit/viewwork.asp?id=14114
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Website of Publisher: http://www.trafford.com
Genre: Fiction
Publication date: 2004
ISBN: 1412014190
Length: 310 pages
Format: Paperback

Reflections from Shadow  by Malcolm Watts

Reflections from Shadow is a book by Malcolm Watts, a mental health professional, and as such reflects the author’s training. He is particularly good at portraying the thinking of children, and takes the reader back into childhood as we once knew it. For example (p. 34), Jared’s father James says, “What’s wrong, son? Too tired to walk?”

Jared shook his head, then looked up at his dad with a pleading expression.

“When Christmas is done can we put the tree back where it was?”

“No, I’m sorry Jared, but once a tree is cut…well, that’s it.”

“You mean it’s dead!” Jared panicked and started crying. He snatched Dad’s sleeve and pulled it hard. “Put it back, Dad. Put it back now. Maybe it won’t be dead.”

James crouched down to Jared’s level.

“Sorry Jared. No can do.”….

James took Jared’s hand, and they walked along in silence. Jared swiped at his face with his mitten as he tried to comprehend this sudden glimpse into the circle of life and death.

In similar fashion, Jared remembers in sharp detail the arrival of his adopted baby brother Derek so vividly that one suspects the memory is one that belongs to the author.

The narrative goes back and forth between the present and the past, particularly in the scenes with Simon, Jared’s therapist. The scenes of Jared’s treatment are believable and a peek for the novice into the treatment room, as one would expect from the writing of a mental health worker.

A disturbing part of the book for this reviewer is a strange reoccurring phenomena which the reader never knows is real or not. Jared sees himself as a Nazi in a concentration camp, and his close friend Clarence as a prisoner being tortured by emersion in freezing water. While the author no doubt intends the episodes to mean that we are all capable of every emotion, I would have preferred another less confusing way of delivering the message.

While there are many good aspects to Reflections from Shadow, particularly for those readers who know little about the process of psychotherapy and/or are interested in the thinking of children, it is not one of my favorite books. I was never really griped by Jared’s story, and can only be lukewarm in my recommendation.

Author bio:

Malcolm Watts MSW is a mental health professional and author living near Toronto Canada with his wife Diane. The couple have three adult children.

Alma H. Bond, Ph.D.
Alternative-Read.com Reviewer

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