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Joy Lee Rutter

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A Flamboyant Disarray of Dreams
by Joy Lee Rutter   

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Books by Joy Lee Rutter
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Literary Fiction

Publisher:  Behler Publications ISBN-10:  1933016027 Type: 


Copyright:  June 18, 2004

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Behler Publications: A Flamboyant Disarray of Dreams

Joleen Cumberland discovers brain injured client Alex Williams has a secret, but he trusts no one except his roommate Mitch Stevens. Mitch, also neurologically impaired, is unable to speak. How will he be able to help Alex?

Joleen Cumberland, questions her motives for continuing her work at Rivers Edge, a neuro-rehabilitation facility. Burned out, she has reached the limits of her endurance.

Her work centers on clients, Alex Williams and Mitch Stevens. Mitch, unable to communicate due to his own brain injury, becomes intrigued by the spirited Alex. What is behind the rage Alex often displays? How will Mitch be able to communicate what he eventually learns?
Only A Flamboyant Disarray of Dreams holds the answer.

Sherry Russell from Midwest Book Review writes:
"…splendid bringing to life engrossing characters…highly intelligent, provocative… enticing fast paced read with intriguing theory on the Roadrunner cartoon."

Joleen Cumberland saw her entire life passing by like playback from a mishandled camcorder. Her heart raced in panic as her mind tried to incorporate the prospect that death was coming in the form of an assault with a talking Bart Simpson doll. The yellow plastic spiky-headed thing had become a weapon in the hands of an agitated client. This is how it all ends? Death by a hideous sixteen-inch doll?

Ay, caramba!

Jesus. Bart’s plastic face would be the last thing she’d ever see. She pictured the headlines: 32-YEAR-OLD WOMAN KILLED BY BART SIMPSON. Don’t have a cow, man! Bart struck her again. She screamed and her co-workers came to her rescue. And that was just the beginning of her day.

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Professional Reviews

Midwest Review of A Flamboyant Disarray of Dreams
To understand the extent of brain injuries is to possess the understanding of what it takes to work in a neuro-rehab. The main character, Joleen Cumberland, deals with hostile patients, verbal and physical assaults, miracles and her own personal burn out. Joleen is at her wits end after seven years of working at the rehab center, Rivers Edge. Everyday she had "a fear as if she was entering the belly of a gigantic sleeping monster".

Between her irritating co-worker, Brad and her new patient Mitch Stevens along with his brother Geoff, life starts to take an interesting twist. There are many gripping moments all through out the book. One in particular is when Joleen is kicked in the head by one of her patients. There are times when patients leap into rages, toss off prosthesis body parts and attack with toys. Through all this chaos, workers maintain their sanity, make major leaps in helping their patients and Joleen finds love.

The author has done a splendid job of bringing to life engrossing characters. The patients, co-workers and families are all substantial in description and dialogue. A Flamboyant Disarray of Dreams is a highly intelligent provocative novel. The book is enticing with its wild disarray, weird magical moments and plagued with paranoid delusions. A fast paced excellent read with an intriguing theory on the Roadrunner cartoon.

Sherry Russell Reviewer

Midwest Book Review

Round Table Reviews
Reviewed By Wendall Sexton

Fascinating. My first reaction reading the initial pages opening Joy Lee Rutter’s A FLAMBOYANT DISARRAY OF DREAMS was, as Mr. Spock might proclaim -- fascinating. A woman sits catatonic in her driveway, pondering death by the hand of Bart Simpson, while reflecting on her work, her life, and whether or not the patients she helps at Rivers Edge, a New Hampshire neuro-rehabilitation facility, are actually being “helped” by her efforts. Will their lost cognitive skills, necessary for assimilating information and controlling behavior, once more be of use; or are those patients, and their frenetic, dangerous childlike behaviors, dragging her down into the same disarray that fills their days? Such is the question before Joleen Cumberland.

Mitch Stevens is a writer; or, perhaps more appropriately stated, he was a writer. Following a tumble from the second story deck of his condominium, he now is little more than a vegetable, unable to speak, and barely able to move. His eyes, as Joleen notices, are alert, watching herself, as well as Rebecca, Mitch’s wife, when she visits him at Rivers Edge; but his ability to communicate is lost.

Mitch becomes the roommate of Alex Williams, a young man incapable of controlling his emotions, raging into temper tantrums, dangerous and frightening to those people not prepared to deal with the hazards he presents. Somehow, with Joleen as the conduit back into the real world, Mitch and Alex foster a nebulous father/son relationship: Mitch helping Alex speak of what bolts him into such ballistic anger; and Alex giving Mitch a reason to do more than just sit in his wheelchair and take up space.

I was drawn to this book initially from its title. It caught my attention, and I found myself wanting to know more of what this curious arrangement of words meant. When I learned the premise of the book took place in a ‘neuro-rehabilitation’ facility – a place of which I was completely unfamiliar – I knew there was something within its 281 pages worth investigating. Happily, I can report my time was spent well.

Why do I say this? Simple: A FLAMBOYANT DISARRAY OF DREAMS resonates within the context of the Rivers Edge patients, as well as the staff from whom they depend for care. You see, Joy Lee Rutter has accomplished something with this book all authors should. She has taken the book’s title, which overtly pertains to the disarray of those people robbed of their faculties, and applied it to the struggles all people encounter in their lives. Joleen, as the protagonist of this engaging tale, continues returning to Rivers Edge (though she seeks the life of a successful writer) while inwardly desiring to quit, leave it all behind, and forget all the wandering quandaries about why she has remained there seven years. There is also Melanie, her supervisor, struggling, to a degree with boyfriend issues – in a fashion one never envisions a supervisor talking to an employee whom she supervises. Tim, the new RS on staff, is the scruffy ex-husband, thrown out of his house, driving his John Deere lawnmower to work. Brad, Joleen’s nemesis, who while doing all he can to do his job right, manages to insolently do everything wrong – they trade some amazingly witty barbs that shows Joleen’s wrong side is a fool’s land to tread.

If you are looking for a good tale, A FLAMBOYANT DISARRAY OF DREAMS is one worth a try. There are good characters that develop naturally through the action and transpire logically from one plot point to the next. There is a solid ending with which one will not be disappointed; and which, I believe could establish, a second book with these same characters (if Geoff and Rebecca are strengthened) as the issues raised at the conclusion here illicit more concern than just a person’s brain no longer functioning as it ought.

A FLAMBOYANT DISARRY OF DREAMS is Joy Lee Rutter’s second book -- her first, being A DISTURBING PRESENCE. I hope she continues to develop her stories with the sense of strong plot and concurrent theme, which relates not only to the characters she creates, but also those readers taking the time to indulge in her words. It is much the same as the characters here in A FLAMBOYANT DISARRAY OF DREAMS. They were reading the lives of those characters within Rivers Edge, learning, as Mitch would tell in his writings, one should always look beyond the words -- a truth still pertinent to all living upon planet earth today.

In The Library Reviews
Author: Joy Lee Rutter
Publisher: Behler Publications
Available At:
Publishing Date: November 2004
Genre: Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback
Price: $14.36
ISBN: 1-933016-02-7
Author Email/Website:

Reviewer: Joyce Handzo

A Flamboyant Disarray of Dreams is about a frustrating disruption of reality. Set in a neuro-rehabilitation facility, readers enter a world where the majority of the characters are trying to recover and cope with brain-related injuries. The author's own work at a similar type of facility has enabled her to draw these characters with a disturbing sense of realism. As a result, readers will not be able to forget this story.

Joleen Cumberland has worked at Rivers Edge for seven years. She has experienced the frustration and the fear, as well as the joy and the hope of dealing with her brain-injured clients. Her job is demanding, requiring her to maintain a high level of alertness at all times. At any moment and for any reason, a patient could lash out in anger, causing injury to themselves or others. Joleen has been physically attacked by clients and so have most of the counselors. Now, she wonders why she even bothers to go to work each day. Is she making a difference in their lives, or just destroying hers? However, when Mitch Stevens arrives at Rivers Edge, her thinking begins to change.

Mitch was unable to communicate because of his injury. He becomes fascinated by Alex Williams, his roommate, who is not only extremely vocal, but is also a talented violinist. It soon becomes apparent that Alex has a terrible secret that he will only tell Mitch. But how can Mitch get help for his friend when he is trapped in his own world of silence?

This reviewer was completely impressed with this book! The setting in a neuro-rehabilitation facility was not only unique, but fascinating as well Throughout the story, the author scatters facts about brain-related injuries, which helps to explain the characters' motivations, and also educates the readers in this area.

The dialogue is strong and moves the scenes along powerfully. There was a palpable tension between the patients and the caregivers at Rivers Edge. Entering the world of these characters was both stimulating and suffocating. This is not a book that will be easily forgotten.

The sense of mystery and fear surrounding Alex painfully points to the limitations of these patients. The author writes with sensitivity and a sharp edge of reality. Add to all this a touch of romance and a dab of humor, and this reviewer can honestly say this is an amazing book.

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