Synopsis from Read with Audra:
Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on—responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who came back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand—but that everyone is learning to fear.
Talk spreads quickly around town after Sam nearly kills his own brother. When he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?
“Sam’s reactions to ‘normal’ stimulus are off the charts. If he hears a sound or sees a shadow, he immediately jumps into fight/flight/freeze reactions. As is normal for people when they’re first dealing with PTSD, he has no tools to hide his responses and lacks a bit of impulse control,” Tromp explains. “He’s a good, good man with an enormous heart and his reactions cause a horrendous amount of guilt for him. The last thing he wants is to put the people he loves in danger. Imagine watching yourself become more and more unstable and wondering if there’s anything you can do to stop it.”
Annie desperately wants to believe her husband, but between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds—or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?
“Fear is the great consumer. Sam is afraid he’s going crazy and that he can’t protect his family. Annie is afraid she won’t ever be able to cope and that the Sam she married is lost forever. And when they (or we) focus on fear, there are no solutions, no ways to move forward because they cannot solve fear on their own. We aren’t trustworthy enough or strong enough to fix it,” shares Tromp. “I’m a huge proponent of looking for and celebrating the beautiful even when it isn’t pretty. Gratitude isn’t a pretty bandage to slap on a hemorrhaging wound. It is a way to shift your attention while the master healer does his work. As Sam’s mother Dovie May says, ‘Sometimes God uses broken things to save us . . . Ain’t no light that can get through something solid. It sneaks through the broken places.’”
Tromp’s inspiration for Shadow’s in the Mind’s Eye was her own grandparents’ stories of adjusting to life when her grandfather returned home from World War II. Back then, soldiers returning home rarely talked about their experiences and the difficult adjustment of “getting back to normal.” In the process of writing the story, the author did extensive research on treatments for what was known as battle fatigue at the time. She also drew on personal experiences in dealing with PTSD herself.
Readers will also learn more about the sordid history of Hot Springs being home to the largest illegal gambling racket in the country where the town served as a sort of gangster retreat for members of the mob. The setting and illegal activity provide an excellent backdrop for a suspenseful story. After reading Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, fans of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin are sure to add Tromp to their favorite authors list.
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Leslie’s Review: 4.5 Stars/I more than loved it!
I really loved Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp! Shadows in the Mind’s Eye tells the story of Sam, a father and husband returning from World War Two to his hometown of Hot Springs, and Annie, his wife. Returning home is not exactly how either Sam or Annie pictured. Sam is battling severe PTSD when he gets home and Annie thought things would be exactly as they were before Sam went off to war. As Sam is battling PTSD, he often sees things that are either not there or comes in waves of flashbacks of what he experienced during the war. Annie is trying her best to navigate life with this new version of Sam and raising their daughter, Rosie. As Sam’s PTSD gets worse, people start to think something is wrong with Sam. That is, until some of the things Sam has seen start to have some merit and some of Hot Springs deepest, darkest secrets come into the light.
What drew me to Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp is the psychological component and how it was written. Ms. Tromp writes Shadows in the Mind’s Eye in the voices of both Sam and Annie alternating the narrative. As you’re reading, you fully understand where Sam is coming from and where Annie is coming from–that is how flawless Ms. Tromp’s writing is. I loved the topics that were covered in the book and how they weren’t brushed under the rug, but brought to the forefront in a Christian Fiction Book. While it is a darker read, in terms of the realities a person with PTSD faces as well as their love ones who endure along side them, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye shines Hope in the middle of the darkness. I especially loved the ending and how everything wasn’t wrapped up in a nice little package, because it mimicked the realities of life.
Despite the realities in the book’s darker moments, I could still read moments of Hope that were doing it’s best to shine through. Yes, sometimes it’s good to read a book for the sake of an escape. But sometimes (like for me right now), it’s good to read a book that deals with the real stuff of the world, albeit in the fictional sense, to let you know that you are not alone in the world or to remind you that you can go through what life has dealt you because it’s not so bad after all. Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, I believe, will challenge you in a good way. If you are looking for a Christian read that could be outside of your comfort zone and challenge you, then I highly recommend Shadows in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp.
Have you read Shadows in the Mind’s Eye? What did you think of the book? In what ways did it challenge you and/or what did you take away from the book?
I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read Shadows in the Mind’s Eye. Special thanks to the Read with Audra Book Tour for giving me my first chance to be on a book-blogging tour and for the media information for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Learn More About:
Janyre Tromp (pronounced Jan-ear) is a historical suspense novelist who loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.
A firm believer in the power of an entertaining story, Tromp is also a book editor and published children’s book author. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, two kids, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog.
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