Chris Fabry takes us on a journey to understand the elderly in Every Waking Moment. The Desert Gardens Retirement Home is getting ready to lose its beloved director, Miriam. Her husband has already retired and Miriam is getting ready to leave her position to move into the next phase of her life. But before Miriam leaves, there are some things that she has to do. First, she has to get the staff and patients acquainted with her replacement, Miss Millhouse—a woman juts as cold as Miriam is warm. But just as importantly, Miriam wants to make sure that Treha, Miriam’s favorite employee is taken care of.
Treha is unique. She lives simply, rides her bike to work, and could possibly have slight mental impairment issues. But she does have something that makes her incredibly valuable, particularly in a nursing home. She seems to have a special ability to reach the patients that are the most unreachable—those that do not speak or who seem to have disconnected with the world. Though Treha is really responsible for custodial work, Miriam has seen Treha’s extraordinary ability and steers her toward patients that need her. When Ms. Millstone does not seem to understand Treha's value, Miriam does what she can to ensure that Treha keeps her job.
At the same time, there are two filmmakers who are trying to find their way to creating a documentary of the nursing home. When just filming videos of the residents, they determine that the film would be of little interest. But when they find a controversial angle with a hospitalized doctor (a former patient at Desert Gardens), Treha’s past, and potential medical malpractice, they won’t stop until they uncover the truth.
I have read many of Chris Fabry’s books. I was excited to read this one, but it was a train wreck. It felt like one big literary cliché after another--slightly mentally retarded girl with “whispering” powers, big corrupt medical conspiracy (reminded me of Erin Brokovich) and filmmakers trying to find a story. There was even a resident kook, who was flashing a gun and threatening, but turned out to be central to figuring out the big conspiracy.
I had a hard time understanding Treha. Her mother had abandoned her, so in one sense I felt sorry for her. On the other hand, it felt as though her character made no sense. Where did her “power” come from? Was it strictly mental? What would her future be like? It was all very Ghost Whisperer—but not as clearly drawn. As I read, I thought more than once that Every Waking Moment had jumped the shark.
To conclude, I think any other Chris Fabry novel would be a better choice than this one. This one felt muddled, confused, and unclear in its overall message. With the exception of Miriam, none of the characters were compelling or interesting. I would give this one a pass.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina