PUBLICATION DATE: FEBRUARY 8, 2011
romise Dayton was dying of Cystic Fibrosis, but she had a great desire for the world to remember her after she was gone. She had meticulously plotted her rise to fame, ensuring her inspiring story spread across the internet while protecting her reputation. However, her carefully constructed life soon began to crumble when she miraculously survived several near brushes with death. Influenced by a local gallery owner, Porta Cerreto, she began to suspect that she might be immortal. Is she alone able to escape death and can she pass her gift to others?
Meanwhile, the rigid, routine life of Chase Ellis began to slowly crack. As an autistic artist, his ability to see beyond the surface was at times unnerving to those around him. Driven to draw trees and present them to the person they’re for, he enters into Porta’s gallery and by extension, Promise’s life. In an elegantly written novel that explores life and death, truth and deceit, light and shadow, The Promises She Keeps is a gripping supernatural drama with warm characters that make it hard to put down.
There is one particular type of character that will either make or break a book for me—someone with an autistic spectrum disorder. How they are presented will very much set the tone for a book in my mind. I have three kids on the autistic spectrum, so the author had better present their autistic character in a positive light or I’m going to have some serious objectivity issue. Healy does an amazing job of writing Chase’s character though. There is a tenderness to the creation of his personality along with insightful dialog that highlights some of the more endearing though oftentimes difficult to understand autistic characteristics. More than once I smiled at the simplistic complexity of Chase’s mind while feeling the tug at my heart as his sister longed to see his eyes. Even if the plot had been a train wreck and the writing pathetic, Chase role in this book would have ensured I kept reading. It’s that good.
Fortunately, the plot wasn’t a train wreck and the writing wasn’t pathetic. Both were well done and interesting to follow. In this speculative work, Healy’s imagination takes center stage, creating nice spiritual allegories. It was enjoyable to watch the different layers unfold and come together in a cohesive story that illuminated God’s enduring love in the face of confusion and rejection.
With both of Healy’s solo books, she’s managed to effortlessly capture a dark and brooding mood. She sets a restless tone early and maintains it gracefully throughout with a smoothness that’s truly astounding.
A nice addition to The Promises She Keeps is the Wiccan religion practiced by Porta. Stripped of its ‘innocence’, it is presented for the deception it is. It was fascinating to read the unpredictability of messing with the spiritual world and the danger of attempting to gain what was not meant to be held by humans.
The Promises She Keeps is a beautifully written novel. The plot is well constructed and has a nice flow to it, but the characters and the spiritual ideas make this book. The ending is a bit odd or rather abrupt, but it felt right. In a story that utilizes the mysterious mind of an autistic adult, it’s only fitting that the ending is somewhat puzzling.