Straight Jacket by Meredith Towbin
Review by Nicky
Meredith Towbin was gracious enough to send us a copy of her book to review. When an author sends their book in for a review, it's a little nerve-wracking because you worry, "What if I don't like it? What will I write?" Luckily, this was not the case with Straight Jacket.
From the book's cover: Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.
He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny that she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.
Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the crazy guy, but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for both of them, filled with hope. But just when it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…
Some of the dialog (internal and external) seemed somewhat awkward to me. It also seemed as though the relationship between Anna and Caleb formed way too fast. However, I understand that was necessary to move the story along. The other issue I had was how convenient some aspects of the plot were. For example, the fact that, when Caleb and Anna decide to leave the mental hospital, they do so in Caleb's sports car, and his trust fund conveniently enables them to comfortably live on their own in a romantic lake-side cabin. However, these few things are able to be overlooked when the story is an interesting, fast-paced one, and the characters are likable. Anna is a strong female character who goes through a major transformation by the end of the novel. Caleb's story is the one that is most puzzling to the reader. The concept of his character was an interesting one... Is Caleb an angel or is he delusional? That is the question that permeates throughout the story. To Ms. Towbin's credit, she leaves the answer to the reader. I definitely think this would appeal to teens, and I will be recommending it at the high school library.