INHALE asks readers to imagine what it feels like being trapped under the rule of a bi-polar, angry, controlling and often unpredictable man, who insists you travel the country with him while he seeks “help” for his condition.
Colleen Songs does not have to imagine. She lived it, and lives to tell about it her slim memoir, INHALE, the story of how she survived travelling with James, the man she met in by accident in a doctor’s office, and the man who she later married and learned was a fire-breathing monster.
Songs is a Canadian, singer-song writer, so her book is written in what could be considered lyrics: short-short sentences, and each chapter opens with a brief little poem. At the end of her book, there is an actual “Song to James.” Her story takes the reader through a frightening tale of her husband, a mentally-unstable man who dominates her life as she tries to keep a lid on the situation. Songs travels with James from one end of the vast Canadian wilderness to the other, and then down to Arizona, where James is to get his treatment for his behavior and alcoholism.
Throughout, Songs blames herself for her entanglement. She frequently refers to James as her “patient,” and reminds herself to pretend “everything is fine”, so as not to stir his rages. Otherwise, she notes, “Yelling will soon follow, spitting, guttural, vicious yelling, accompanied by flying objects and lethal threats.” The book is a dedication to how Songs can free herself from the mercurial James and return to her two children, all the while nursing him in an RV they use to travel Canada and the U.S.
It would be easy to ask why Songs does not simply make a run for it but fear holds her back. What might he do if he caught her? What might he do to her children? She must see her journey through until, as she says, she can “inhale.” She is finally able to do this on a flight from Arizona to the safety of a friend’s, after convincing James to remain in that state for his treatment.
And finally, we are able to inhale with her.
INHALE is the harrowing true story of a woman who lived day-by-day in fear of a man who could explode at any moment. It will keep readers turning pages, thankful it’s not them in the author’s shoes.
~James Bernstein for IndieReader