In ANNA INCOGNITO, the captivating novel by Laura J. Preble, Anna Beck is a mess. Ensconced in a tiny, immaculate apartment that barely provides enough buffer from the rest of this dangerous, germ-ridden world to be able to cope with trichotillomania (an uncontrollable urge to yank every hair from the body) and various other obsessive compulsive disorders, Anna is not happy. In fact, she’s barely alive. Really, she just exists in a mostly frozen state of guilt and regret, the lone survivor of a tragedy she does not talk about. Of course, even when one’s life is basically over, things like laundry still need to be done. And it is on one foray to the nearest laundromat that Anna meets Dr. Edward Denture, a deliciously baritone Brit with bedroom eyes who happens to be a licensed psychologist. Could Anna–who has intentionally removed herself from the dirtball called Earth as much as possible–ever allow, maybe even crave, human touch again? Could she ever want to be back out there enough to do regular things like meet new people and get back behind the wheel of a car? It’s out of the question!
Nevertheless, Anna soon finds herself crossing boundary after boundary via powerful (some might say questionable) somatic therapy sessions with Dr. Denture, which are, for better or worse, somehow cracking open her shell. Though any kind of personal relationship between therapist and client is illegal, Anna is indeed craving something she was sure she’d never want again: intimacy. Filled with heartbreaking characters described in often wince-inducing detail–from Anna’s helpfully large and loud neighbor to the homeless individuals who glom onto Anna as she attempts a return to the world, ANNA INCOGNITO shines with clean, clear, well-crafted turns of phrase. Slightly reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, plot and subplots come believably to life and the book does not shy away from exploring difficult questions about right and wrong, what makes a family and how mental instability might be rectified. Rich with witticism in the face of painful realities and evoking lyrical truisms throughout, from of a rating scale of 1 – 5 this novel is so off-the-charts good, it deserves a 10.
ANNA INCOGNITO’s healing journey of lost souls trying to move beyond the ravages of Life by Laura J. Preble unfolds so brilliantly, it’s the kind of book readers finish and turn right around to reread from the beginning in order to enjoy the experience all over again.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader