All in the Cards

 

By Rob Clockedile
 

You Lost Me
It’s been three years since Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. Victor Aaron lost his wife, Sara, a playwright, in a car accident when the 58-year-old neuroscientist and head of Alzheimer’s research at Maine’s Soborg Institute finds a stack of index cards in a book on his wife’s desk. The cards, an assignment from the couple’s brief stint in marriage counseling, are Sara’s handwritten account of the turning points in their 40-year relationship. As he reads them, Victor must confront his long-suppressed feelings about their marriage, her death, and his flaws as a husband, lover, and friend.

In You Lost Me There, the debut novel of Rosecrans Baldwin ’99, Victor’s first-person account tracks his emotions and doubts as he processes the stories on the cards. Through his wife’s notes, Victor finds that he and Sara had very different memories of their lives together, and he begins to realize that perhaps he isn’t the person he perceives himself to be. Sara saw Victor as emotionally distant, coldly analytical, and dismissive of her feelings. Sara on turning 40:

I was still furious over how easily [Victor had] turned forty the year before. When, worse, he hadn’t seen why it should be such a big deal to me. ‘It’s a number, not a milestone,” he said “… People last century were lucky to even make forty.

For Victor aging was an issue to be confronted with simple logic. For Sara the birthday was part of a six-month-long roller coaster of stress that inspired her to write her Broadway debut, Woman Hits Forty—a milestone in her life that doesn’t even register in her husband’s memory.

By surrounding the emotionally stifled Victor with a startling cast of characters, Baldwin draws him from his shell. And, while Victor does not change outwardly (he’s still doing research at the novel’s end), the story is of the inner process that sees him become whole.

 
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