“Recognition” by O.H. Bennett
c.2014, Agate $15.00 / $18.50 Canada 208 pages
What you wouldn’t give to spend one more day.
Your loved one has been gone — what? Weeks? Years? It seems like forever, and missing him doesn’t get much easier. You wish for one of her hugs. What you wouldn’t give to have one more day with her.
And what would you do? In the new novel, “Recognition” by O.H. Bennett, a young mother panics because the man she sees can’t possibly be the man she knew.
Franklin would have gone to Brenda’s house by now.
That was one of the thoughts swirling in Dana’s head as she rushed home from an exceptionally long day of teaching. Nine-year-old Franklin knew he should go to the neighbor’s house when his mother was running this late. What he didn’t know was that Dana worried about bills, the house, her job and a hundred other things. Mostly, she thought about her husband, Reynolds, who’d been accidentally swept away in a rain-swollen river just months before Franklin was born.
For that, there was simply no closure.
If only they hadn’t argued. If only she hadn’t been so self-conscious of their mixed-race marriage. If only. If only.
If only she hadn’t slept with her colleague, Steve.
And that was the hundred-and-first thing on Dana’s mind as she prepared to turn onto the street where she lived — and she saw him. Reynolds! Her husband, but when she stopped, turned around, and tried to find him, he was gone.
Enlisting the help of an alcoholic streetwalker, Dana did everything she could to locate her beloved, the man she thought was dead, but he was elusive. Maybe he didn’t want to be found — but why? She couldn’t talk to his mother about it; Maureen was very ill. Dana couldn’t talk to Reynolds’ sister; she never liked Dana much at all. Surely, she couldn’t tell Franklin what was going on.
Until the night Dana realized that she was being stalked. She needed to keep her son safe from someone — maybe Reynolds? It wasn’t his nature to play games — was it? And was that filthy, scruffy, homeless man truly Reynolds … or was Dana’s still-grieving mind playing tricks?
It’s going to take you less than 210 pages to learn the answer. Two hundred squirmy, uncomfortable pages and you’ll enjoy every one of them because “Recognition” is just that kind of book.
Tight-tight-tight is the story that author O.H. Bennett offers us, with no chance to catch a breath or to figure out if his character, Dana, is remembering or re-living; Bennett tosses the story back and forth, then and now, so quietly that we’re never sure. That catch-you-off-guard is an awesome hook that adds to the surrealism of this tale as Dana’s confusion becomes our confusion and everything oozes into a dream-like focus, then careens to an absolutely golden ending.
My biggest advice is to be patient with this book. It’s a little odd at the very beginning, but you’ll warm to it quick. Ultimately, “Recognition” will be a novel you’ll want to spend one more day with.