The Thundering by Megan Davidson
Includes scenes of: torture, child abuse and domestic violence
The Thundering by Megan Davidson follows psychologist Cathy Morgen as she tries to treat mentally ill patients. She’s also a wife and mother, juggling her own practice, the few cases she consults at a private asylum, and the day to day chores that her family requires. At the beginning of the book, her husband is pressuring her to stop practicing, and she’s working towards that after the heartbreaking case dealing with an abused child goes horribly wrong. Until she gets a call about Joseph, a boy that acts like a frightened horse. Pulled back into his case, she slowly unravels his history, despite her husband’s, daughter’s and the other doctor’s protests. She’s determined to save Joseph, to fix what she couldn’t in the little girl she lost, and try to give him a more normal life.
Now for my thoughts. I like Cathy. Considering that this story is set in the 60s, when women professionals were frowned upon, I like how the author showed her taking a lot of crap from the male professionals she worked with, her husband, daughter, and even her doctor. Did I like that she was more of a grin and bear it women with most of the men? No. Most of the time she frustrated me with that behavior. But it felt true to the times and her character. Her inner commentary, where she acknowledges just how ridiculous and condescending some of the other doctors are, is pretty funny. And when it comes time to stand up for her patients and treatment, Cathy puts her patient first and job second. When it’s her husband and daughter giving her a hard time, she kindly sets them straight and goes back to cooking a three course meal or doing the housework. Her daughter eventually comes around, and it’s nice to see their relationship evolve as the girl matures and takes an interest in something other than herself.
I also like how the private asylum is depicted, and that the horrors that were mental health treatment aren’t glossed over. The patients, though Cathy doesn’t really interact with a lot of them, aren’t just props or plot devices. The author depicts them as people. Joseph, of course, being the most interesting.
Now for Joseph. His story, which we learn about in a long prologue, is tragic, and only gets worse as he tells us more during his therapy sessions. I actually thought the prologue could have been taken out completely and we wouldn’t have missed anything. I didn’t like knowing more than the doctors about his past, and I feel it took away from potential suspense. There are a few twists in his story that threw me off, but overall, I would have preferred learning about him as the therapy and book progressed rather than the info dump at the beginning. That prologue was long.
The only other thing that left a bad taste in my mouth was at the end of the book, when Dan gets drunk while he and Cathy are arguing, and hits her. She doesn’t tell the doctor that treats her, and only a friend of hers. I realize that this thing happened and still does happen, and her reaction is probably the norm for not only that time, but for thousands of women that have dealt with domestic violence. I just hate the helplessness and felt that readers should be forewarned. Though things look up for her after this happens, and she seems happier.
Overall, I found the way the author weaved Joseph’s story with Cathy’s and the growth all the characters go through ultimately led to a satisfactory story. I found the writing to be good, with only a couple errors and the story plotted well. I just wish the prologue hadn’t existed. I think without it, Joseph’s story would have had that much more impact on the reader.
My Rating: 4/5
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