HarperCollins Publishers | October 2016 | 400 pgs
The year is 1925. Alice Lind, a travelling psychologist, travels from her home town in Portland to a rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon, to administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren as designated by her employer, the Oregon Department of Education. Alice has always believes in the science of psychology, and that any psychological issues they face would be explored and treated through treatments and further consultations. However, her views are to be challenged by one girl.
Seven-year-old Janie O'Daire looks like any other girls her age; except she is a mathematical genius and that she claims her name was once Violet Sunday. One of Janie's account includes Violet grew up in Kansas decades earlier and that she drowned at age nineteen. Perplexed by Janie's "stories", Alice wants to believe what she has heard is no more than products of Janie's vast imagination but yet something tells her it is unlikely so. To complicate matters, Janie's parents are divorced and Janie's mother isn't helpful when it comes to seeking assistance for young Janie. She turns down all psychological help and thinks everyone views her Janie as a "nutcase" or worse, trying to get her away for some scientific research. Janie's aunt, who stays with them and is a teacher herself, is more open minded but she does has her reservation when she initially meets Alice.
Aside from Janie's excel in mathematics, Alice also found out that Janie's account tallies with all the events which her parents had jotted down on their journals since she was two; when she started to tell them snippets of who she was or what she had done in Friendly, Kansas. The strangest thing is, Janie has never travelled outside Gordon Bay once. Intrigued by Janie's stories, Alice decides to do some investigations on her own and what she found out not only changes her perspective on reincarnation but also revealing the truth surrounding her own past as well.
Yesternight was a great novel; both in the historical and mystery aspect. The story is packed with that atmospheric and foreboding feel and made me edgy throughout my reading journey. It was also a great character-driven story, given that the characters are well explored and developed, especially Janie and Alice since this book is mostly about them. Aside from this intriguing story, the author has also captured the struggles and the frustrations Alice faced whereby they are living in an era where prized female education and career are far less than we do now. It was extremely sad to see these young women's life being wasted despite their talents. Even if Alice is a successful psychologist, at times she feels small working in a field dominated by men and thus, she is always cautious about her work so that no mistake would endanger her professional reputation.
Similarly, this story reminds me a lot of a non-fiction I read six year ago. The book - Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss, is based on a true story and you can read my thoughts of this book here.
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