I’m so excited!!! lmao I spent ALL day reading this book, The Piper by Lynn Hightower, for about a hundred and fifty pages in the span of 6 hours on/off? Yeah. Ohmygerd. So, a book review is in order!
WARNING: Spoiler LAND ahead. I really do recommend this novel, so if you’d like to read it, STOP NOW, ’cause I’ll be discussing it in length (but I’ll leave out some of the big surprises). You’ll find my thoughts on the book, what touched me, quotes, and my trying to make sense of ALL THE SHIT THAT WENT DOWN. So yeah, very excited!! Okay, that out of the waaaay.
(If you don’t want to read about the spoilers, skip to the quotes section where I relate my recovery experience to this book. You may find some pretty inspirational, life quotes down there! LONG post is LONG) XD
My Detailed Summary/Plot Line (SPOILERS) of The Piper by Lynn Hightower
First: My rating for this book is a SIX out of FIVE. Like an EIGHT out of TEN. IT WAS AMAZING. You know I’m serious if I’m using CAPS lock 🙂 😀
I really did love it though.
It took me a few days and the first fifty pages to get really into it, but I think that had to do with my own attention span and getting used to the characters and what was going on. Throughout today, especially, I had multiple moments of sighing to myself in frustration to the characters (like when you watch a movie and you’re yelling at the screen!), to being sweating and freaking out with a TWIST I didn’t expect and genuinely getting creeped out chills from it, to exclaiming WHAT OH SHIT THEY’RE DEAD multiple times as well. All of the excitement lies within this post. (And how lovely it feels to feel that physiological feeling within myself again, and so purely too!)
So, our main characters involve Olivia, mother of 8 year old Teddy (female), and Hugh, the father, whom there’s a divorce underway. Olivia gets a phone call from her brother Chris warning her about “the pied piper” and how he “had to pay the piper” and that the “Mister Man is after her”. All good and nice, except Chris has been dead for 9 weeks. O_O CALLS FROM THE DEAD
I promise, I won’t keep abusing the CAPS lock. I swear!
Anywho, so the Mister Man is their sibling code for what happened to their sister Emily and German shepherd Hunter, twenty five years ago (I think, there were lots of numbers involved) when they disappeared without a trace.
Teddy and Olivia have a current older golden retriever named Winston, so you know.
Anywho, there’s a lot of moving around and a lot of help from Olivia’s friend and Teddy’s PA (physician’s assistant) in LA Amelia as they begin to uncode what Chris’ warning meant and learn, as Olivia and Teddy move back to Knoxville, that there are bad vibes coming from Olivia’s old house (which she and Teddy are back in) and that Charlotte, Chris’ wife and three girls, know more than they let on in the beginning.
So after a lot of time, Amelia comes up to visit Olivia, because she told her friend from college, Alexis, that her young daughter was struggling to breathe (she was dying) and that it would be time for Alexis to let the daughter go. And Amelia told Alexis about Olivia’s phone call from Chris, thinking ghosts calling siblings would help give her comfort (leaving out the warning though) but it didn’t help and Alexis banned Amelia from access to her daughter. So Amelia goes to Olivia and they begin uncovering more about what’s been going down in the house.
Teddy has been seeing a ghost who is dark and evil, named Duncan Lee. He has roots to being the pied piper from Germany, in which he was a serial killer who murdered many, many children in very brutal ways.
He’s connected to the family because Chris, Bennington and Jamison, when they were wrestling in high school had gone to the Waverly Sanatorium, an old TB hospital, that was thriving with paranormal activity and made a deal with the piper who is Duncan Lee. They all won scholarships at the match, but they had to pay back the piper. Jamison got into a car accident. Bennington’s wife lost their child. And Chris and Olivia lost Emily and Hunter. Whatever deal you made with the piper, the consequences were very, very high priced.
So what winds up happening, is that Duncan Lee’s the bad guy around the old house. Chris’ girl Janet gets severely sick with what may or may not have been cancer, and he made another deal with the piper to save her, but that meant his life being taken. That’s how he died.
Amelia makes a deal with the Piper to save Marianne (the little girl of Alexis). Marianne returns to life, Alexis freaking the fuck out, and Amelia pays her price.
A homicide cop named McTavish that has history with Amelia get close and lovey dovey which is cute and wonderful, gets more on board when the peeps start showing up all dead.
There’s all this weird shit happening in the house and Olivia finds out that the dog that’s been barking around the home turns out to be a limping Hunter. Yup, the dog her family had 25 years ago.
Then, Teddy and Winston disappear like – POOF! Gone.
So there’s this whole investigation into Olivia with the cops.
And Hugh comes down and believes Olivia’s story about the Piper. There’s a psychic named Ack who gets involved, but she’s been waiting for 15 years to deal with what happened when she went to the Waverly and provoked the Piper. She’s been sitting in fear for 15 years, pretty much. And feels therefore responsible not being able to help out Chris and the rest.
Hugh decides in his anger that he’ll bring back Teddy, and he mentions specifically a 5 number code about how many books he’d bring back for Teddy for them all to be a family again. Well, in his anger he goes to the house. And you guessed it, he paid the piper too.
So Olivia goes to Bennington to find out his story. Turns out, after having some tea with him, the dude she spoke with, WASN’T him! It was Duncan Lee! THE GHOST
Bennington and all his new family and dog? Paid the Piper!
EVERYBODY’S DROPPING LIKE FLIES
Lmao, this is so my style of a book review… I’m leaving out details too, again, I recommend reading it.
It turns out some other dude murdered that family. And then some other dude in jail says he knows where Emily is.
And so Olivia goes to Ack and they decide to go to the source, Waverly.
So they go. And a lot of shit goes down and it’s beautiful and I’m going to put quotes of it at the bottom. It’s beautiful really.
And Ack disappears. And Olivia makes a choice. And they find Emily and Hunter and that they had been murdered by some other killer from prison who never got caught for their murder and it was actually OLIVIA he was after (she was 5 at the time and Emily was 15) and that the Piper had been following Olivia around and watching her all these years.
And with that code Olivia had from Hugh, and following the ghost of her dead dog Hunter, she finds Teddy and Winston. And they live pretty happily off, with some scars Olivia has from the event to remind her of her choice. And that’s how it ends.
I pretty much ruined it for anyone who read this but, fuck it, it was a good book. Lots of things to keep track of for sure! Who was what killer and what happened where and what codes and numbers and oh my. NOW! Onto quotes and my thoughts!
QUOTES + Their IMPACT on Me
“She could save them all, Amelia and Teddy, if she could start the day again” = p. 122
This is after Amelia has paid the Piper and Teddy is having lots of troubles. I found it particularly heartbreaking from Olivia’s grief, and the desperation she felt to want to rewind time and create a do-over. As it turns out though, it probably wouldn’t have helped. ❤ 😦
“Anger could be magnificent. People always underestimated the power of a
good hard rage. The trick was to control it, rather than let it control you. It was
a skill you could learn but you did have to work at it” – p. 187
I liked this quote about anger because it’s very true and relate-able. I have found that using anger in my recovery with the OCD has been very helpful, there’s nothing like being angry at a circumstance you’re in and deciding, NO, I will not let you dictate how this shit goes, OCD. FUCK YOU. It’s great! Gets that old hand punching OCD in the face. There’s defiance and strength in anger. It’s good. =]
“And if you listen even a little it’s like it’s got a foot in the door and it gets
stronger and stronger and sometimes it feels like a friend, but it’s not. . . But the
more you listen, the more attention you give it, the stronger it gets” – p. 192
This is Chris’ daughter Janet speaking, warning Olivia about Duncan Lee, the ghost, the Piper and how he was affecting Chris and Teddy and all the others. I really liked this quote because it felt like a dawning truth coming to light over my head, where I felt this relates well to what OCD feels like and how OCD acts. The more attention you give to your OCD, the more strength it builds. And it is NOT a friend but with be deceiving and make it look like it’s on your side, doing YOU a favor. I found it just an amazing revelation while reading this book.
“No one can see it unless they agree. It has to be a choice.” – p. 192
Again, I love this, it’s still Janet talking and describing the Piper. It makes me think so much of OCD. And it IS a CHOICE and I always have a CHOICE whether I pay attention to it or not. Whether I strengthen myself or its inflated ego. There’s always a choice. ❤ This was very striking to me. I feel like I’ve been enlightened into recovery again, just a spoonful of it, where I wasn’t expecting it to be.
“If you’re ready. If you want to face it. Don’t you think it’s time to stop running
from this? Aren’t you tired of living under its shadow? Maybe we were meant
to do this together, you and me.” – p. 223
This is Olivia talking to Ack, trying to convince her to go with her to Waverly to face Duncan Lee at the source. I really enjoy the teamwork, companionship in this quote. I also like that challenging your worst fears notion, again, something that ties hand in hand with recovery from OCD. (or any issue!!) It feels like declaring war on the OCD, on the Piper, of fighting back, whatever the cost.
“To be strong if you get . . . targeted. You can’t just stand on the sidelines with
these things. Keep going, come on, the only way out is forward. There isn’t any
other way. Think of your little girl and keep walking. Keep walking, okay?” – p. 229
This is Ack talking to Olivia as they are walking through the Body Chute of Waverly. Ack is in front of Olivia, leading the way, and the shadows of lost souls are forming all around them, and so there’s no way for them to turn back now, they can only move forward. I like that Ack is getting Olivia to think of her values, her daughter, the reason she’s fighting her fears and going to places, to the ends of the Earth, to save her daughter. This is very much like the journey with OCD, you focus on your values as the treatment of ERP causes you to face your greatest fears. Like the Robert Frost quote, “The best way out is always through.”
“She felt the oddest sense of recognition, like she’d known him all her life.
Taking his hand would be such a relief. No struggling anymore. She had not
understood how much she would want this, how good she knew it would feel.” – p. 231
This is Olivia under the lies and deceit of the Piper, telling her to take his hand and make a deal and then that everything would be okay and she’d get back Teddy in exchange for her life. She is under the spell of the Piper, as he glorifies what making a deal with him will be like. As I’m sure you can see, this is like how the OCD I deal with glorifies suicide and self-harm. Making it seem like the perfect release.
“But on some level she felt it. That she was the special one, she always had
been, and there was something evocative about the feeling it gave her,
knowing she was chosen. She felt the urge to accept, to give in, to take the hand
that beckoned her on. If she gave in now it would be easier, she would find
peace in her heart. Just the thought of it made her feel warm, bathed in relief.” – p. 232
Again, this is more of how I feel with the OCD, how it lies to make me feel like a special person, the one and few who would come to act on the very thing I fear. To act out what it wants from me, even when my values lie elsewhere. How it glorifies the end of life into this sweet, honey land of escape and release, when really it would horrible and torturous for all (myself, my friends, my family, people I knew online, people I had yet to meet, people I didn’t even know I could affect). It is deceitful and yet tempting, so very, very tempting sometimes. It would be so simple. So easy… And sometimes there’s just that urge to relapse, like where I’m at now, to just wander down the other path… but for what, really? For what purpose?
“Olivia had felt important then too, but it was nothing like this feeling. Then
she had felt the tie between mother and child, but there was no ego involved,
only a sense of responsibility and love.” – p. 233
This is when Olivia is realizing she has a choice, and she remembers a memory of her and Teddy and compares that feeling of love to how she feels with the Piper’s request. This makes me think of the promised feelings I supposedly would receive if I listen and do what the OCD says, but that I never really get, not for long. Not as long and ever lasting as Responsible Raquel and Recovery Raquel. I miss those two. (So today, May 3oth 2016 marks my new journey of recovery again)
“There was good and bad in life,
and the thought filled Olivia
with dread because she knew
what it might mean for Teddy.
Life was consequences, for
having children, for falling in love,
for having hope.
Happiness meant people you’d lose one day.
There wasn’t going to be an easy way out.
In real life, there
never was.” – p. 233
I just love this quote. It speaks such honest truth, in a raw and emotional way. It gives Olivia the strength to face her fear and tell it ‘No, I will not make any deal with you.’ It makes me think of how it’s better to get to know someone today, even though one day you’ll miss them and they’ll be gone. The whole, better to have loved at all than never before thing. While they’re in your life, they could have an impact on you and you on them. It could shape who they are for the rest of time. Or, add to it. This also recognizes that shit happens in life and life can be amazing too. We’re only here for a limited amount of time, so what are you going to do with yours?
“She still felt it sometimes,
she’d had when she’d reached
for that ghostly
hand, and she sometimes
felt the lure, that
yearning grief for
her childhood home,
thought she heard the
piper whispering in her
ear. But when the urge
got too strong, she had
only to touch her throat,
to listen to the hoarse
damage in her vocal cords,
and it was enough,
it was, to keep her safe.” –
I got these last two quotes in larger text, specifically this one because it’s important. I feel actually, from the journey of writing up this book review, that this quote above really encompasses what RECOVERY (and RECOVERY TO WELLNESS) is all about.
The urge will still be there. The Piper, the OCD, the depression, the BPD, the whatever it may be, it will still be there even as we recover, the difference is that we have a choice now, we have a choice to how we manage, how we cope, how we move forwards. Is it easy? No, hell no. Fucking hello no. Yet it’s so very worth it.
And we may be able to see the effect of our journeys on our bodies, our flesh, or our memories, and still, we are SURVIVORS. We are living proof of a story unfinished. We are those semicolons. We are gladiators and victors.
Recovery is a journey, not a destination. We can always learn and grow more.
And it’s okay to break down. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to lose sight sometimes of where we’re going, what we’re doing, what our purpose is.
But with a little introspection, a lot of love and support, friends around us — virtual and real — with a good book, we can find the light again.
“The light doesn’t need the dark,
but the dark needs the light.” –