BY LINDA ARMSTRONG-MILLER
SADORIAN PUBLICATIONS, 189p., $14.95
by Emma J. Wisdom
The year is 1999, and Matthew Allen Green has just begun his four-year
medical internship. He is not pleased about
serving an around-the-clock
shift in the intensive critical care unit as this paranormal novel titled Touched, by
Armstrong-Miller, begins. The story takes place over a span of twenty-four
hours. This compelling novel
is intense, strange, dark, and--yes--gripping.
It grasps readers by the throat and make them pay attention or they
something important as the author explores the mind of her principal character.
Allen is summoned to room six, where black, ninety-eight-year-
old Ruthie Mae "Grandma" Morris has been assigned.
As a transfer patient,
Matthew Allen cannot imagine the reason she is placed on his watch. With a
Matthew Allen believes the bed could be of better use since,
in his mind, the old woman could not have much longer to
live. But then he has
his first encounter with Grandma, and it changes his life. It seems Grandma
knows about him and his secret past. Never having met the old woman, he cannot imagine how she could know so much about
him--even intimate details
that he has kept hidden for most of his life.
After Grandma reveals several
unmistakable manifestations of events to
him about himself that he had never shared with anyone, Matthew Allen begins
question his own sanity. Perhaps, he is hallucinating from sleep deprivation. It
has been known to happen with
interns. It is a grueling time to learn about
the ramifications and lessons of being a physician. Matthew
Allen does not seem
dedicated to the profession or has a heart in the field of medicine. He is removed
blase about the whole thing.
In fact, Matthew Allen is remarkably cold, arrogant, and insensitive to
suffering and needs since he feels he does not need anyone. At twenty-
six, he has been on his own since he was eighteen
and even further back to the
time soon after the death of his father when Matthew Allen was eight.
has not allowed himself to get close to anyone. He does not
trust anyone, and he has not trusted anyone since his
According to Matthew Allen, she, too, failed him when he most needed her support. Matthew Allen
blames his father for dying, and he blames his mother for marrying again.
Now, Grandma is asking him
to relive those earlier years in order to
regain a semblance of emotional depth that he lost long ago. But he is
not convinced until Grandma uses her powers to transport him to a time twenty-five years ago, where he witnesses some horrible
scenes which are another indictment against humanity. But then he gradually moves toward a renewed self, while, at the
same time, the clock is ticking and the countdown begins as Grandma's life ebbs and wanes toward zero on the heart monitor
and the great gallery of restful sleep looms to finally consume her. There are things she must do first to help Matthew
The author creates a microcosmic world in which she examines and
explores the Everyman's struggle
to answer one's worthiness to God and self
here on Earth and in the Afterlife. If readers follow this thought to
conclusion, the answer is revealed that Matthew Allen is the Everyman/medical intern and Ruthie Mae Morris is the
weathered old woman presented as the all-knowing presence. Then, the author juxtaposes the physical world of Matthew
Allen as Everyman with a Jesus-like parable where He asks as does Grandma, "Do two wrongs make a right?" Armstrong-Miller
uses the metaphor of the relationship between God and man versus and, in this case, the story of Everyman versus omnipresence
in the form of Grandma Morris. She wants Matthew Allen to decide for himself the true answer to his dilemma. She
guides him toward finding and traveling the path of his own bliss and destiny and whatever fate brings--even considering the
hurtful things of life. Once he discovers the answer for himself, a whole new world opens to Matthew Allen.
Linda Armstrong-Miller focuses on the theme of acceptance and
forgiveness, making Touched a profound and satisfying read.
If Touched is any
indication of what's to come from this author, readers will be pleased to
know that Armstrong-Miller
has just begun to stir and mix the art of creative endeavor to deliver many new books to her growing audience.
Emma J. Wisdom lives and writes from her home in Nashville. Her book
review column has been appearing in the Chattanooga
Courier for more than six
years. She can be reached via e-mail at EWisdom@aol.com