Monday, December 24, 2018

Book Review: 'Dakota Son' by Mary Ramsey

Dakota Son by Mary Ramsey

‘Who am I kidding? I’m going to die alone in a hospital bed.’

California author Mary Ramsey served in the United States Air Force and has a BA degree in Cinema and now is a blogger, artist, and writer. Her characters are grounded in her fondness for unique superheroes—underrepresented minorities, LGBTQ, abuse victims, and so on. Mary lives in San Francisco.

Mary is one sensitive author - and person – and she shares that treasured trait with her readers in this deeply touching novel. She understands the implications of serious chronic illness and how life under constant stress affects not only the victim but also those surrounding the victim. She also champions the endurance and strength of the human spirit and how that factor can draw out the best in others as well as provide faith in the victim. 

The primary character, Dakota son, is Sean Foster, a North Dakota teenager who lives with cystic fibrosis, a disease that permanently damages the lungs. He copes with his illness and constant hospital visits with the help of his sister, Sara, and his girlfriend, Jen. While Sean battles with cystic fibrosis and is a heroic figure, he is also very flawed and fights against the self-pity that consumes him as he copes with his illness and the aftermath of being bullied at school. Sean is devastated when his true love, Jen, and her disabled military veteran father, Diego, who is abused by his wife, move to California. Sean decides to defy his mother and follow Jen to California, which changes Sean’s life in ways he couldn’t imagine. Add the character of Remy, Sean’s holistic nurse with a talent for healing wounded souls, and the story takes on a spiritual, near supernatural twist.

An example of Mary’s writing follows – ‘It was a beautiful day in North Dakota. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I had just puked all over myself. Again. You’d think that after fifteen years of living with chronic illness, I’d be used to my body. But no, cystic fibrosis has a mind of its own. The worst thing? As I lay in bed, my stupid bag IV bag was blocking the view of my gymnastics medals and trophies. Not that I stood any shot of making the team this year. Freshman year I was considered a protégée; this year I’m the freak who fell asleep in the locker room. That’s CF—one minute I feel superhuman (or at least human), but the next minute I feel so tired I can barely run through my routines. Then we have today. I’m fairly certain I’m not going to survive long enough to compete for a spot on the competition roster. My head pounded as the sunlight hit my eyes. “Sara, I need you!” Like magic, Sara was already pulling the blankets off my body.

Written in eloquent prose, DAKOTA SON is a superb novel by a fresh and very gifted writer. Highly Recommended. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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