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Rita Kuehn

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Peripheral View
by Rita Kuehn   

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Literary Fiction

Publisher:  Hillcrest/Langdon Street Press ISBN-10:  1934938343 Type: 


Copyright:  May, 2009 ISBN-13:  9781934938348

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Peripheral View

A novel of love, courage, and the triumph of the human spirit...inspired by a true story!


Pearl and Sonny are in love and are determined to get married, which shouldn’t be an impossible endeavor for two single, employed adults. But Pearl and Sonny have obstacles. Despite her intelligence and obvious capacity for self-sufficiency, Pearl has lived in a healthcare facility her entire adult life because of the epilepsy she’s had since childhood. And Sonny lives life in a slower and simpler realm. People wonder if he can take care of himself, let alone Pearl.

However, with the help of a nurse who isn’t afraid to take some chances, a perceptive social worker, and Pearl’s loving, long-lost niece, Sonny and Pearl seem to be on the road to a wedding and a life of their own. Unfortunately, some people with selfish interests are hiding in the shadows and are determined to keep Sonny and Pearl separate—and Pearl in the healthcare facility.
As friendships form and strengthen, Pearl uses her wit and knowledge to help others see beyond a peripheral view.
She entered her room, barely noticing that it was not as she had left it—she had no energy to make her bed that morning. However, someone had made her bed. Tucked under the pillowed bedspread lay an envelope with her name on it. That got her attention. Had Sonny somehow gotten a message to her? She quickly opened it. Inside was a note of four lines: “Jordana K. Barlow,” a home address and phone number, a work address and phone number at Curic and McCall Global Advertising, and the words “Go for it!”

With eyes wide and mouth agape, Pearl stared at the note. It was from Nurse Charlotte. While Pearl had unsuccessfully labored over how she would find Jordana, Charlotte had solved the problem for her. Charlotte had done for Pearl what she could not do for herself. Although Pearl had the evidence right in front of her, it was all too hard to believe. No one, since her mother and father so many years ago, had ever helped her like that. She closed her eyes and cradled the note to her chest. Then, for the first time that day, a smile illuminated her face.

The next thing that happened was even better. The thought she had toiled with upon entering the Glory Heights building came to rest in her mind. She wasted no time in deciding what to do with it.

When Pearl was sure the lobby receptionist would have left for the day, she made her way to the nurses’ station. The lone nurse was filling out charts, wrapping up her shift. Pearl was thankful that Nurse Charlotte wasn’t there. It would have made what she was about to do so much more difficult. Pearl would’ve had to lie to her, and she didn’t think she could do that. This nurse was preoccupied with her work. Pearl knew that Glory Heights’ nurses, like caseworkers, were overworked. Usually Pearl felt bad for them, the way they had to scramble about their work. However, this time it worked well into her plan.

Having passed the station without so much as a nod to anyone, she walked out to the lobby. It was a long, narrow room filled with lush ficus trees, ferns, and other live plants. She began to pick out a spot when—uh-oh. The receptionist was still there. Pearl tried to back out unnoticed, but no such luck.

The young woman glanced over at Pearl. “Can I help you?”

Pearl tried for nonchalance, “Oh heavens, no, dear. Just checking out the weather.” She made a point to look out the windows. “Looks like you could still fry an egg out there.”

The receptionist smiled, and then she opened a desk drawer and pulled out a purse. “You’re lucky to be inside where it’s cool.”

“Sure am. Lucky to be inside.” Pearl nodded her head and smiled back.

“Well, good night, then.” The receptionist headed for the main door.

Pearl gave her a small wave, and then pretended to walk back from where she came. She moved slowly and listened. The door opened. She took five steps. The door clicked shut. She smiled.
That was the nagging thought she’d had earlier; the door did not slam shut. It shut slowly. And now she knew there would be enough time for her to escape. She just had to wait for the next person to leave.

Fortunately, the bushiest plants with the biggest pots were in a corner near the door. Acknowledging a blessing came easy to Pearl. As she crouched behind the ficus, she gave thanks for Glory Heights’ plant budget.

She waited until she heard footsteps; then, she got ready. She couldn’t believe how nervous she was. The air conditioning again did nothing for her—she was sweating bullets. The tap, tap, tap of footsteps drew nearer, almost to the door. The branches were too thick to get a good view, which meant whoever was there couldn’t see her either. He began to whistle, probably happy to be off work, and she knew it was a male nurse leaving his afternoon shift.

She held her breath until he opened the door. Then she sprang up the best that someone with her precarious stability could, and waited only seconds until his whistle waned in her ears. She stepped out from behind the tree. Taking three long steps, she glanced out the door. The man walked toward the employee parking lot without a glance back. She reached for the door. She shouldn’t have taken her eyes off it! It was closing! Her fingers grazed the metal without gaining purchase. The heavy door closed with her still inside.

Her heart sunk, and she began to cry. About to give the door a good bang, she heard laughter and ran for cover. It grew louder. Pearl dried her eyes, feeling hopeful again. Two women were leaving. Pearl would not miss the door this time.

Professional Reviews

Peripheral View is a page-turner! Touching and inspiring!
Reader Rating
Posted May 19, 2009, 9:15 AM EST: I loved this book! Peripheral View is a wonderful story of a woman with dreams . . . . Pearl has dreams of enjoying a life full of love, acceptance and independence. She has a chance to make these dreams a reality, but there are people who want to squelch her dreams. She is betrayed, in a sense, by those who should love her most. Fortunately, Pearl discovers there are some compassionate people, including a lost relative, who are willing to advocate for her. As the story progresses through several twists and turns for our heroine, I found myself anxious to see Pearl realize her dreams, and I found myself loving her and her resolve. Author Rita Kuehn writes beautiful descriptive passages which really drew me in! The story is both simple and complex. A timeless story of how humans both hurt and help each other, and how love and perseverance wins out in the end. This is a touching and heart-warming story!

True Love and Courage Overcome Misconceptions
Reader Rating
Posted May 9, 2009: Pearl's in love with Sonny and more than anything, she wants to marry him, but too many complications block her way, including her sister, a Senator, who keeps Pearl hidden away. But with the help of true friends, Pearl and Sonny won't be kept from their dreams.

Rita Kuehn, in her first published novel, has penned a beautiful story of courage and love by bringing to light the true face of epilepsy. She shatters the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding the neurological condition, and hopefully the reader will learn to see the affected face-on, with love and understanding, rather than from the Peripheral View.

A Review from Tales of a Bookworm
Pearl has had epilepsy since she was a child. She is now in her 40's and living in an assisted living facility, not by choice though. She was told when she was younger with the severity of her seizures that she wouldn't be able to do what most people do in life - Get a job, Get married, live a "normal" life.

Although Pearl is intelligent, and is happy for the most part thanks to her boyfriend Sonny, she still yearns to have as normal as a life that she can have. They are in love, and want to get married. But all of that is changed, when Pearl writes to her Senator sister Susan. Susan definitely has other plans, and they include Pearl not getting married.

Susan for the most part has resented Pearl from the beginning, at least from the start of her seizures and everyone paying more attention to Pearl and not her. Even while they were children living in a small town, Susan always made sure that Pearl had no friends. Even going so far as saying and doing things that would make her shunned from their school. Now grown, and trying to make it on her own - She wanted to be a famous Hollywood actress, she decided that a career in politics was easier. Then later on her dream had come true. She is now a senator, and she will protect whatever she had built up, regardless of the consequences. And that means that she hides the things that would hinder her prominence in society - regardless of people feel about it...It is all how she wants to be seen.

After Pearl's letter, Susan decides she needs to further "tie down" Pearl. She calls the institutions director, who she has been paying off for years now, and tells him that Pearl needs further intervention - no outside visits, no special trips, nothing.

Unknown to Pearl she goes to work at the factory, anticipating to see Sonny as she does everyday since they work at the same place (and where they met) to find that he isn't there. She figures that he was sick of something else, and goes on with her day. Later on that night her and Sonny had made plans to meet outside the facility where she lives. He is waiting for her, and as she tries to sneak out of the facility, she has a terrible seizure (from being so scared of being caught) and that stops the visit.

As things progress, Pearl is terribly distraught because she cannot see Sonny, other things are happening too - Nurses are changed around, Sonny is never at work anymore, and she finds out that she has a niece. Even the social worker is behind Pearl 100% but his hands are tied, based on what the director has been saying and ordering staff what to do.

Pearl gets so angry, and upset that she sneaks out of the facility and finds Sonny's apartment. She goes and calls her niece. The thing is that her niece never knew she had an aunt to begin with and thinks it is a crack call. As she calls her mother Susan, she is finally told that she does. And this starts the the story of Pearl and Sonny.

Through insurmountable barriers - family secrets, the perceptions that people with disabilities have, and convincing people that have been previously set by other assumptions, are large and things are at stake - for everyone involved.

This book from the beginning has been for me a somewhat personal one. 1. My mother had epilepsy, and was medicated for it. And I know many people from the community as well that work with people with disabilities in their homes. I have myself have worked with people with disabilities as well. My one thing about this book was that the medications that the author has Pearl on, the date at which it is dated is around 1989**. At that time the drug Phenobarbital was being or has been already phased out for more modern types of medication that was coming onto the market at that time. Here in Canada, we don't have institutions anymore that house these people anymore. They are in the community, living their lives as normally as possible.

It was well written, and the story I suspect would have or will give many people hope of being able to live their dreams of living an independent life as much as they can, if they are able to. We shouldn't shut people with disabilities out of the real world they have just as much right as we do to live how they want to, without prejudice.

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