There are some books that clutch at your heart strings, and ‘Unspoken Dreams’ by Alisha Guenzel is one of them. Samantha, the main protagonist, comes across as a bright and independent woman, who lives life on her own terms, whether it is making her own decisions in life, or standing up against adversity, in a world where she is forced to live alone with her autistic son, Jaime.
Close friends who have been inseparable from the time they were children, Samantha Sharp and Jonathan Carson have grown to love each other with the intensity that comes from knowing each other inside out. However, when Samantha finds herself pregnant, a strange nervousness assails her, as she waits to break the news to Jonathan.
The blow falls as Jonathan refuses to be part of the pregnancy, saying that he is not ready to be a father, and needs to concentrate on his career instead. He tells her bluntly, “Our dream was good, but there are better dreams out there, Samantha.”
The next phase of Samantha’s life begins, as she takes up a job at New York, where her new boss, Chuck Young, editor and chief of the New York Times, helps her to find an apartment and to settle into her new assignment. Samantha wants the baby and she has only one choice left, “to make her life and the baby’s life as good as possible”. She is soon promoted as Head of the Journalism Department, and her life revolves around baby Jaime and her job.
However, as the years go by, Jaime-Bear, as she calls him, with sparkling blue eyes like his father, reveals singular traits that prove that he is autistic. He has his own strengths, as well as his little moments when he retreats deep into himself. At these moments, only Samantha can calm him down with her special touch. He does not like hugs, unless they are his momma’s hugs. He needs reassuring touches to make him feel secure and does not like too many people around him.
At this juncture, Samantha’s younger sister, Amy, who is pregnant, calls her, asking her to come and be with her till the birth of her daughter. After some thought, she agrees to go back home, so that Jaime can meet his aunt, uncle and his grandparents. It is with trepidation that she prepares her son for the journey, dreading the idea of exposing “her eight-year-old- autistic secret” to her parents. How Jaime reacts to her family forms a heartwarming part of the book.
Jonathan, meanwhile, is busy living life for his dream. He has finally become the owner of his own restaurant, Midnight Moments, and is all set to launch it, when he meets Amy, who is married to Rick, his friend, and promised to throw a baby shower for her.
How does Jonathan react when he meets his old flame, Samantha, again after so many years? Does Samantha want him back into her life and Jaime’s? Will Jaime, who is possessive about his momma, accept Jonathan as his father? Can Samantha ever trust the man who betrayed her once?
Old memories and regrets are interspersed with a sense of hope and anticipation, as this touching story unfolds with many special moments that bring the relationship between Samantha and her Jaime-bear into focus… if there are difficult moments, there are also many that are spun with precious threads. Alisha Guenzel writes with an ease and clarity about autism, in a way which makes her readers fall in love with Jaime, and offers useful pointers on how to deal with an autistic child.
‘Unspoken Dreams’ is a must read if you enjoy romance, emotion and a poignant storyline that leaves you with a sense of well being.
Posters created by Alisha Guenzel
Review by Deepti Menon