This is the redraft. I think the differences speak for themselves. Probably.
When your self-esteem is shattered by harsh reality, can stories save you?
Here Today is a contemporary novel that follows a young occupational therapist’s locum stint in a Brisbane hospital. Astrid is rootless and restless in her life — unable to commit, unable to settle.
Martin Finn, a successful novelist whose stroke has left him with the rare locked-in syndrome, wants Astrid to help him write his next story – one letter at a time. Astrid’s friend, Leith, encourages the young therapist to abandon her professional veneer and immerse herself in the worlds of her patients. Astrid remains unconvinced until a stray bite misses her lunch and takes off the end of her tongue. Unable to communicate beyond painful, barely decipherable utterances, Astrid has no choice but to listen.
Martin is not the only patient with a story to tell. In group therapy sessions that build in intensity, Astrid navigates lecherous physiotherapists, depression-era lottery capers, would-be cosmonauts, rioting soldiers, a ghostly reunion in a devastating flood, and murderous revenge on a rotten police officer. Lost in her own unsettling memories of childhood, Astrid loses control of her patients and their stories. Past and present collide amidst projectile bibles and Mozart arias as Astrid’s careful façade is stripped away to reveal the damaged young girl who plays at being the professional therapist.
How can she recover, reassess her career, and put her fears into true perspective while in full view of her patients? Miracles are the stuff of fantasy, but maybe small changes for the better can be smuggled through catastrophes. Astrid compiles her individually dictated alphabet soup into Martin’s story. And she discovers something extraordinary.
Here Today is an affecting and sometimes comic reflection on life with an unexpected twist in the ending. Its serious themes are tempered by warmth and humour. Like the stories of its characters, Here Today is a novel that demands to be heard.