When my mother named me Ophelia, she thought she was being literary. She didn't realize she was being tragic.
On the surface, Annie Powers's life in a wealthy Floridian suburb is happy and idyllic. Her husband, Gray, loves her fiercely; together, they dote on their beautiful young daughter, Victory. But the bubble surrounding Annie is pricked when she senses that the demons of her past have resurfaced and, to her horror, are now creeping up on her. These are demons she can't fully recall because of a highly dissociative state that allowed her to forget the tragic and violent episodes of her earlier life as Ophelia March and to start over, under the loving and protective eye of Gray, as Annie Powers. Disturbing events--the appearance of a familiar dark figure on the beach, the mysterious murder of her psychologist--trigger strange and confusing memories for Annie, who realizes she has to quickly piece them together before her past comes to claim her future and her daughter.
Annie Powers leads the perfect life in Florida with her husband, Gray, and their four-year-old daughter in this stellar character-driven stand-alone from bestseller Unger (A Sliver of Truth). Less than a decade earlier, however, Annie was Ophelia March, the teenage captive-or accomplice-of spree killer Marlowe Geary. Gray, a partner in his father's private security consultant firm, tracked Marlowe and rescued Ophelia after sending the killer's car over a cliff. Reinventing herself with Gray's help, Annie can't remember all that happened during her years with Marlowe, and she's prone to panic attacks and blackouts. When a strange man appears on her property, Annie's sure Marlowe is back. As a shady police detective digs into her past, Annie must try to recover the memories she buried if she's ever going to be free from Marlowe. Unger expertly turns what could have been a routine serial-killer story into a haunting odyssey for Annie, dropping red herrings and clues along the way until the reader feels as unsettled as Annie. (June)
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1 . Wonderful read, I couldn't put it down! A must read!
Posted January 18, 2010 by Erika M. , IndianaI was an avid reader when I was younger but as I grew older I quit. I recently just come across this book and decided to give it a try and it was as suspenseful w/ as many twists and turns you could ever want a book to have. It reignited my love for reading!
I highly recommend Black out and it has now made me a huge fan of Lisa Unger and now I'm going to read more of her books!!
May 26, 2008
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Excerpt from Black Out by Lisa Unger
Unger: BLACK OUT
When my mother named me Ophelia, she thought she was being literary. She didn't realize she was being tragic. But then, I'm not sure she understood the concept of tragedy, the same way that people who are born into money don't realize they're rich, don't even know there's another way to live. She thought the name was beautiful, thought it sounded like a flower, knew it was from a famous story (play or novel, she wouldn't have been able to tell you). I guess I should consider myself lucky, since her other choices were Lolita and Gypsy Rose. At least Ophelia had some dignity.
I'm thinking this as I push a cart through the produce aisle of my local supermarket, past rows of gleaming green apples and crisp blooms of lettuce, of fat, shiny oranges and taut, waxy red peppers. The overly familiar man in meats waves at me and gives me what I'm sure he thinks is a winning smile but which only serves to make my skin crawl. "Hi, honey," he'll say. Or "Hi, sweetie." And I'll wonder what it is about me that invites him to be so solicitous. I am certainly not an open or welcoming person; I can't afford to be too friendly. Of course, I can't afford to be too unfriendly, either. I look at my reflection in the metal siding of the meat case to confirm that I am aloof and unapproachable, but not strangely so. My reflection is warped and distorted by the various dings and scars in the metal.
"Hi there, darlin'," he says with an elaborate sweep of his hand and a slight bow.
I give him a cool smile, more just an upturning of the corner of my mouth. He steps aside with a flourish to let me pass.
I have become the type of woman who would have intimidated my mother. Most days I pull my freshly washed, still-wet blond hair back severely into a ponytail at the base of my neck. The simplicity of this appeals to me. I wear plain, easy clothes--a pair of cropped chinos and an oversize white cotton blouse beneath a navy barn jacket. Nothing special, except that my bag and my shoes cost more than my mother might have made in two months. She would have noticed something like that. It would have made her act badly, turned her catty and mean. I don't feel anything about this. It's a fact, plain and simple, as facts tend to be. Well, some of them, any- way. But I still see her in my reflection, her peaches-and-cream skin, her high cheekbones, her deep brown eyes. I see her in my daugh- ter, too.
I'm back in produce, though, honestly, I don't remember what caused me to drift back here. I am holding a shiny, ripe nectarine in my hand. I must have been gazing at it as if it were a crystal ball, trying to divine the future. I look up to see my neighbor Ella Singer watching me with equal parts amusement and concern. I'm not sure how long she has been trying to get my attention or how long I've been staring at the nectarine. We're more than neighbors; we're friends, too. Everyone here calls me Annie, even Gray, who knows better.
"Where were you?" she asks.
"Sorry," I say, with a smile and a quick shake of my head. "Just out of it."
"Yeah. Good. Great."
She nods, grabs a few nectarines of her own. "Where's Vicky?"
All the women in our neighborhood, her teachers, her friends' mothers, call my daughter Vicky. I don't correct them, but it always makes me cringe internally. It's not her name. I named her Victory because it meant something to me, and I hope in time it will mean something to her. True, I named her in a fit of overconfidence. But Gray understood my choice and agreed. We were both feeling overconfident that day. I'm still clinging to that feeling. Though recently, for reasons I can't explain, it has begun to fade.
"She's with Gray's stepmom. Swimming lessons with Grandma," I say, dropping the fruit into a clear plastic bag. The nectarines give off a fresh, sweet aroma. They are almost to the point of being overripe, fairly bursting with themselves. An old woman inches past, leaning heavily on an aluminum walker. Some mangled, Muzak version of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" by the Police plays tinny and staticky from unseen speakers.
"That's nice," Ella says with a nod. "Time for a cappuccino?"
I look at my watch, as if calculating whether or not I can fit it into my busy schedule, even though we both know I have nothing else to do and Victory will be hours yet--between the swimming lessons and her favorite lunch and time with the neighborhood kids. They're all bigger, older boys, but she commands them like a queen. And they love her for it.
"Sure," I say. And Ella smiles.
"Great, meet you over there when you're done." She means the little spot by the beach where we always go.
"See you in a few."
She pushes off. I like Ella a lot. She is so easy, so warm and open, so trusting and unfailingly kind; she makes me feel bad about myself, as though I'm some icy bitch. I smile and give her a small wave. My heart is doing a little dance. I think it's just that I've had too much caffeine already and my heart is protesting the thought of more. Maybe I'll just have some chamomile.