Dark Swan Press, Dec 2009, $17.99
Sophie Hegel left Florence to attend Yale Law School although her shyness makes public speaking a combat sport. At school during a debate she met decade older Stephen. In early 2001 with the Towers still part of the landscape, she graduates and passes the New York State bar Exam. Sophie starts work at New York City’s Public defender Office and moves into Stephen’s Manhattan apartment.
Engaged to marry, they are having dinner together when she suddenly cannot eat or speak and barely can breath. Her throat feels stuffed by a ball the size of her fiancé’s fist. She remembers as a seven years old having the first time the fist blocked her throat when she, her sister and mom left their dad in California to move to the Arizona penitentiary city of Florence. Finally deciding to learn what her condition is, Sophie finds out she suffers from a psychosomatic illness Globus Sensate; a condition that makes it difficult to represent her Sing Sing clients in a court of affluence, but 9/11 will soon teach her what terror truly is as she walks down sixteen flights.
This is a terrific character study of a mid twenties woman struggling with a psychological disorder that attacks her physically at importune moments in a world and in her mind already out of control with unfairness. Whether it is Arizona, New Haven, or New York, Sophie struggles to survive feeling like an outsider; enabling her to empathize with her poverty stricken clients. Fans will root for this wonderful heroine who refuses to allow her delicate condition and her sense of not belonging from preventing her from doing her best for her indigent clients who face a system that scorns them as losers for being poor.