A Break in the Fog
A Break in the Fog by Molly Salans had me thinking about Clara, the story’s main character, well after I finished this story. Although a wonderfully well-done novel, this is not a light read. The story follows Clara’s journey recalling her traumatic childhood, dysfunctional family, and her eventual wash up into a deadly cult. A tale that truly shook me, readers of serious fiction or those who are seeking a deeper understanding of cults, would thoroughly enjoy this book.
With a drug-addicted sister, a disconnected father, and a dead mother, Clara’s family life is in shambles, to say the least. Never feeling loved and wanted at home, she always finds herself seeking more, looking to others to satiate her longing for affection. Clara’s true passion is in dancing; teaching modern dance at her local studio is the one thing that makes Clara content. However, her father does not approve, causing a great division between them, eventually forcing Clara to teach in secret.
On a particularly hard day, Clara finds herself on the Golden Gate Bridge gazing into the ocean for solace. A woman named June approaches her, inviting her to a restaurant owned by her school, The Ancient School of Ideas. Clara attends, eating the most delicious, indulgent food she has ever tasted. Two speakers, students at the school, talk during the meal. Both gorgeous and alluring, Clara is attracted to them, and the people at this school who appear so vibrant. Although the monthly tuition to attend is expensive and she finds discomfort in religion, Clara signs on to attend for the first month and try it out. Before long, she is hooked. Slowly immersing herself more and more into the school, the reader watches Clara quietly fall into the cult, not even aware of what is happening.
The way Salans shows this transformation is what makes this book so chilling; the reader watches Clara lose her independence more and more daily, eventually without resistance. The brainwashing was gradual – slow enough to where Clara truly believed that what was happening was okay and for the better. An absolutely heartbreaking and terrifying reality that happens to so many, I could not stop thinking about how both victims and their families are affected by this kind of tragedy.
Additional topics this novel addresses include drug and alcohol addictions, belief in God, suicide, survivors’ guilt, and familial violence. A book that will give you chills, be prepared to watch Clara and her family’s life change with the events that will unfold.
|The Salans Press
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