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Linda Armstrong-Miller
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Is Your Life Really In Order?

If you were a fan of the old “Twilight Zone” television series, or if
you simply enjoy modern fantasy, make room on your reading list for
“Touched” by first-time novelist Linda Armstrong-Miller.
As the story opens, we’re introduced to Dr. Matt Green.  It’s his first
night on call as an intern in a program that was obviously not his
preference.  He has little sympathy for the elderly patients who are
going to die anyway.   He can’t save them, so what’s the point?  But
his
resentment goes far beyond his patients.  He thinks that the doctors
and
nurses actually want to see him fail.  This is one angry young man.
Although Matt would prefer to have nothing to do with the elderly black
woman called Grandma, who is unexpectedly transferred into his care, he
can’t escape her haunting eyes or the suspicion that she knows too much
about his past.  But it’s not possible that Grandma could know about
the
childhood trauma that has scarred his personality.
As you might expect, Matt cannot escape Grandma for long, and soon
finds
himself forced to confront the painful memories.  Through Grandma, Matt
embarks upon a journey of self-discovery, one that takes him beyond his
own painful memories, to a town from the past and into the lives of
others who have known great suffering.
What I liked best about this novel was the author’s empathy for the
characters.  She shows us that Dr. Green is a deeply wounded man who
cannot heal others until he, himself, begins to heal emotionally. 
While
the story touches upon many types of conflict: racial biases, treatment
of the elderly, and various degrees of abuse and family dysfunction,
the
author consistently shows great understanding for the complexities of
human relationships.  Her characters are the walking wounded, and she
treats them with a gentleness that could only come from Grandma.
If you read this novel, you will be touched.
Sarah Manskowski
 

Touched is a must read book
Touche did just that. It touched me so that I laughed in some places and cried in others. I rejoiced when Matthew Allen was finally able to see that he was being offered a gift. I cried when he finally accepted it. I loved Touched so much I'm recommending it to my family and friends. I can't wait until Linda Armstrong-Miller publishes another book
reader

Touched is a compelling novel by Linda Armstrong Miller about the power of forgiveness to transform life itself. When Matthew Allen, a man burdened by the pain in his past, closes himself off from all friends and family, he denies himself love and happiness. Yet his self-inflicted deprivation is about to change, as he comes to understand that learning to forgive and to make peace with one's past is the first step to being able to truly embrace and enjoy life. Touched is highly recommended, emotionally satisfying reading.
Midwest Book Review

An Impressive Literary Effort!
The saying you can't judge a book by its cover is so true. When I received the copy of Touched by Linda Armstrong-Miller, I have to admit it took me two days to actually start reading. But once I started I didn't want to put it down.
The author did a wonderful job painting a picture of her characters. It was as if I lived through them. I think the thing that "Touched" (pun intended) me the most was the conversation throughout the book between Grandma, and Mathew. Their dialogue was crisp and believable. It was as if I were in a room observing them from afar. We cannot predict what challenges we face in life; however, through our faith and the support of loving, caring people we can overcome.
I like the story more so because it showed a continued hope for Matthew to change, and that the change was going to have to be as a result of him finally letting someone into his life. I wholeheartedly recommend this book as one to add to your bookshelf. I plan to read it again, just in case I missed something the first time-Kudos to Ms. Armstrong-Miller.
T.C. Matthews Co-founder, Prolific Writers Network
 

Touched is such a powerful and moving book with a surprise ending. The book is one that involves the reader and makes them feel as if they are part of the story. I enjoyed the creation of the characters. I am a registered nurse and I can identify with the medical aspect of this book but the underlying message is powerful.
Judi Wilkerson, reader

A RAWSISTAZ REVIEW
A Supernatural Journey
Matthew Allen had a seemingly perfect childhood, that is until the death of his father. Struggling economically, his family was forced to move out of their comfortable suburban home, sell most of their valuable belongings and move into a tiny apartment. Many of the things children tend to take for granted slowly slipped out of Matthew Allen's reach. Things only became worse after his mother remarried and eventually Matthew became the victim of a major tragedy. As a result of these things, Matthew decided that the best way to cope in a cruel world was to cut himself off emotionally, not caring about anyone he encountered.

As the story begins, Matthew is beginning his medical internship at a hospital he is less than thrilled about working at. His ability to get along with both colleagues and patients is severely limited due to his emotional distancing so he keeps to himself as much as possible. That is until a 98-year-old, seemingly homeless, African American patient, who prefers to be called "Grandma" is placed under his care and he is forced to once again feel.

Together, Matthew and "Grandma" go on a supernatural journey that allows them to travel time and space in order to find healing. "Grandma" poses a difficult question to Matthew, "Do two wrongs make a right?" and he must struggle to arrive at the answer. In doing so, he must journey as a spectator through his own childhood and some of the lives of people in "Grandma's" past.

In this book, Armstrong creates a tale in which gender, age, class, and racial barriers are transcended through the special bond that Matthew Allen and "Grandma" develop. The unlikely duo work together to heal the emotional wounds of the past and build new hope for the future. Though at times the language in the dialogue was a little bothersome, the story will draw you in making you feel anger, sorrow, frustration and joy right along with the characters.

Reviewed by Stacey Seay

A Little Bit Dickens, A Little Bit King: A Review of Linda Armstrong-Miller's "Touched"
Writer's Club Press, 2001
ISBN 0595139183

Reviewed by David Michael Wharton

 

"Touched" isn't a terribly original novel. That said, that's not too damning a strike against it. Whoever said "there are no original stories left, just old stories told in a new way" was onto something, although I'm fairly certain they stole that quote from somebody else, whoever they were.

Matthew Allen is a mess. He's a successful doctor, working through his residency, putting in the long hours and frequent headaches that are the price of passage through the medical realm. He's not well-liked by the hospital staff, a fact which neither escapes him nor troubles him. Put bluntly, Matthew Allen doesn't care one whit about anyone other than himself, a strange fact when considering his chosen line of work. He drifts through a late-night shift, viewing every new patient as little more than an inconvenience and shunning the few coworkers who make an effort to befriend him or to pass along some helpful advice. We get the impression that Allen would rather be anywhere else in the world except where he is right now; but wherever else he went, he'd probably be miserable there, too.

The aimless antagonistic drift of Allen's life is interrupted by a new patient, a kindly and mysterious old woman known as Grandma Morris who-wait for it-is not what she appears. Following their initial meeting, the rest of the book unspools as a kind of Stephen King rewrite of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

While the book does show some of the weaknesses that seem to universally plague the world of small press publishing (clumsy dialogue, far too many typos, and the lack of that all-important "professional polish"), Armstrong-Miller has managed to craft an entertaining and involving story here. Grandma Morris is more construct than character, and a fairly stereotypical construct at that, but she serves her purpose. Our erstwhile protagonist Matthew Allen starts out looking both shallow and detestable in equal measure, but he becomes more likable as the story progresses. And that emotional and spiritual journey, after all, is the gist of the tale.

Armstrong-Miller may have erred in making her protagonist so obnoxious from the get-go. Certainly, it's nice to track his progress as he delves into the reasons behind his inner hostility and realizes the emptiness of his life thus far, but the writer runs the all-too-likely risk of alienating the reader to the point where we don't give a damn what happens to Allen, certainly not enough to stick around for another two-hundred pages to see if he ever stops acting like such a prick. His epiphanies are gradual and well-handled, however, once the book really gets rolling.

Which leads to the real strength of the book, wherein-through means I won't disclose here-we see Matthew Allen's story travel back through Grandma Morris and intersect with another story, a story that takes place in an altogether peculiar town. It is a town filled with secrets, and if you feel the boat veering dangerously close to the Perilous Cliffs of Cliché, fear notwhile it would be very easy for this to all wind up as an ineffective rehashing of ground TWIN PEAKS traversed and traversed well a decade ago, Armstrong-Miller manages to create a fascinating town filled with old wounds, old pains covered over but not yet healed. It's a town that Matthew Allen gets to visit, if only for a little while, so that he can bear witness to one terrible act of violence that threatened to destroy everything the town's inhabitants had sacrificed to create. Only then will he find himself faced with a choice of paths, one leading to redemption, the other leading nowhere at all.

"Touched" is a swift, enjoyable read at only 220 pages, and it's a welcome relief after some of the swill that passes for fiction in the world of small press publishing. It's a successful blend of suspense, drama, and the supernatural, and it's worth picking up.

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