4 out of 4 stars
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Gloria is understandably shaken when she finds herself driving through the mountains in the middle of the night with no recollection of how she got there. Her hands are trembling and soaked in blood as she grips tightly onto the steering wheel, trying to jog her memory. After this unnerving incident, she is somehow transported back in time to 2003.
She wakes up to the nightmare of her past, ensconced between the blanket and her ex-husband's arm draped over her. How can this be? She escaped the clutches of Charles's abusive grip nearly twenty years ago. To make matters worse, she keeps waking up to different periods in her life, which furthers her confusion. Gloria suffers from a dissociative disorder, which causes her to have gaping holes in her memory. As a coping mechanism, she blocks out traumatic events from the past, but she is also blocking out some of the precious memories of raising her daughters.
Gloria must find a way back to the future, or is it the past? One thing is for sure, something terrible is about to ensue. Why is her mind preventing her from accessing these memories?
As always, I am a sucker for eye-catching visuals, and The Other Gloria by L.A. Villafane piqued my interest with its mysterious cover. Upon further reading, I was delighted to find that the book not only made a great first impression but a lasting one. The book is a psychological thriller that delves deep into the mind of a woman who has suffered immensely through an abusive marriage. The gripping novel is told in the third-person perspective and follows the mentally fragile Gloria Davis as she desperately tries to find the missing pieces to the puzzle that is her life.
The thing that set this book apart from others was the existence of alternate realities constructed by Gloria's subconscious. The timeline jumped back and forth between the years of 2003 and 2019, cleverly providing readers with tidbits of her life. While she had no control over which reality she woke up in, the younger Gloria was armed with the knowledge of what was going to happen to the future Gloria. If she didn't seek refuge from her abusive marriage early on, her future could look bleak, with a fatal outcome.
The author covered some particularly weighty topics; Gloria is subjected to Charles's wrath on numerous occasions—not only is he physically abusive, but he is controlling and has a way of convoluting the truth. It was agonizing to see Gloria stuck in the pattern of abuse that we see so often in volatile relationships. He controls. He attacks. He is infinitely apologetic, and then the cycle repeats. The plight of a battered woman is complicated as it is multilayered and full of uncertainty. No matter how strong Gloria is feeling in the moment, her confidence is shattered by the shrouds of doubt she has. After briefly feeling courageous, she second-guesses herself. The author writes, "Logically, she knows she has plenty of reasons to leave, but in this moment, with things going well, a little doubt slithers into her mind."
While I loved the alternate realities, there were times when the switching became tedious. Initially, the back and forth was confusing, and I found myself having to go back to the beginning of the chapter to figure out which year it was. Thankfully, by the middle, those wrinkles in the story had been ironed out. The Other Gloria was professionally edited, and I found no issues with spelling or grammar, so I happily chose to give the book a rating of four out of four stars.
I would not recommend the book to young readers or those who are triggered by scenes of violence against women. There are instances of profanity, brutality, and rape, so please tread carefully if you are a sensitive reader.
The Other Gloria is an expertly crafted story infused with thrilling twists and turns. With the addition of alternate realities woven into the plot, it gives the book that extra edge. I would recommend the book to readers who love exploring the inner workings of the human mind. For those who love books like The Girl on the Train, or The Butterfly Effect, this book is for you.
The Other Gloria
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