Dr. Susanna Seliger is a renowned psychiatrist who specializes in treatment-resistant depression. The most difficult cases come through her door, and Susa is always ready to discuss treatment options, medication, and symptom management but draws the line at engaging with feelings. A strict adherence to protocol keeps her from falling apart but she is haunted by feelings that she could have helped the people closest to her.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book is beautifully written and intensely sad. Not surprising, considering it’s a story about a doctor who works with treatment-resistant depression and ECT, but Hesitation Wounds is more about the emptiness inside the doctor than the sadness of her patients.
The first person perspective plus her writing style made me feel like I was reading a very long series of blog posts. This is not to say it was a bad thing, just that it felt less like a story than a confessional. I found myself wondering if there were parts that weren’t strictly fictional, because it felt so deep and personal.
At first I thought we would be spending more time with Jim, the young man introduced early in the story as one of Susa’s patients. He seemed to be very important to her and I was certain that he was going to be the thing that helped her resolve her own lingering guilt and depression, so I was a little surprised things went the way they did.
Her history with her family unfolded slowly, with only hints of the incident with her brother given that sent me off into a completely different direction than what actually happened. It was satisfying because it gave me time to get comfortable with the characters and feel for them before I fully knew their stories. It also made certain aspects of her youth more heartbreaking, especially where her brother’s friend Ray is concerned.
The second half of the book felt more hopeful, and I felt my spirits lift with hers when Susa met her daughter and said goodbye to her cheating ex. It wasn’t long before the heaviness of the first half crept back in, but it couldn’t cover the happiness she felt when she talked about her little girl. The ending continued on in this way and brought tears to my eyes, seeing her come full circle as she did.
I really enjoyed this book on a lot of levels, but I do have to warn people that the subject matter might be a trigger for someone with depression or anxiety, and there are frank discussions of suicide. It’s not an easy book to read at times but I’m glad I have it in my collection. There are times you just want something a little deeper, and Hesitation Wounds delivers with a punch.