When reality utterly fails you, there is always the comfort of the land of dreams. Chloe Valcourt, a tormented nineteen-year-old young woman, has for twelve years hovered between a daily life dominated by an abusive mother and an imagined alternate world that exists only in her mind’s eye. Can she keep track of which is real—and whether or not she is real, too? Schasm is the mind-bending young adult romance by Shari J. Ryan that mines the heart of darkness, where one young woman seeks light in her own shimmering daydreams.
A psychological condition has captured the body, mind, and soul of Chloe, and thrust her into the hands of probing doctors at the continued mercy of her tyrannical mother. As she struggles to break free of the grim life into which she was born, she continues to suffer the daily assaults from her mother and the dispiriting weakness of her dejected father. When Chloe unexpectedly finds herself drawn into a new, warm life abundant in love and romance with a kindhearted man named Alex, the escape at last gives her a happiness that she's never been allowed to feel. However, when hidden truths reveal a life that she cannot remember, Chloe finds herself lost between what is real and what isn't.
Blending extreme daydreaming, alternating realities, and multiple personalities, Schasm is a gripping tale that treads the thin line between a harrowing reality and the captivating terrain of an imagined world. As Chloe plays too close to the edge of insanity, her multiple realities clash, leaving her to question everything, including her own existence. Anyone who relishes a flight of fancy with richly drawn characters and surprising twists of plot will be immersed in the strange new world of Schasm, where nothing is at it seems.
The open snow-covered field is mesmerizing to look at, and as I stare at it while whizzing by, the snow begins to melt into a blur and turns into the texture of sand. The sand leads my eyes to a blue ocean, rather than the white sky, and the branches of pine trees curl outward as they turn into palm trees.
I experience a brief sense of excitement, thinking I’m heading to my happy place, but it quickly becomes overshadowed as I feel myself choking on water that’s now flooding through my mouth. With an attempt to clear my lungs and throat, I try to force myself to cough up the liquid, but instead of freeing my lungs I end up inhaling more, forcing me to choke even harder. I can’t breathe, and my vision is becoming so blurry that I’m unable to see anything other than some strange curvy lines. My once soothing thoughts are now turning into a panicked frenzy, and all I can do is try to breathe through the breaks of choking. But it seems useless since I just end up inhaling more water. I try to open my eyes again, but instead I become overwhelmed with a burning sensation similar to having soap in my eyes. This is ridiculous!
After what seems like an eternity with no air or sight, I regain some of my vision. I quickly try to focus on what’s going on around me, but before I can make anything out, the scorching sensation returns again. A feeling of impending blackness comes over me as I succumb to the sensation of drowning, and I feel weightless and numb. My body has stopped struggling, and I find some comfort lying on whatever soft surface I appear to be on. As the weakness continues to take over, lethargy begins to set in until I unexpectedly feel two arms underneath me. One arm slides under my legs and the other under my neck. I’m lifted up with ease and carried a few feet from where I was and then placed back down again.
By turns, pressure is being applied to my chest and air is being blown into my mouth as my lips are soothed by a smooth, dispassionate sensation. I feel the rush of trapped water racing up my lungs, through my esophagus, up through my throat, and out of my mouth. The movement fortunately allows me to gasp for air, and after a few free breaths, I feel it’s safe to open my eyes.
There’s a guy in front of me, and he’s dripping wet, kneeling over my body with a concerned look as he tries to catch his own breath.
“Are you okay?” he asks in a soft-spoken voice, his mouth still only inches from mine.
I attempt to respond, but the only thing I can manage to do is cough up more water, right in his face.
He swiftly lifts my head up off of the ground, forcing my airway to open a bit more, and it thankfully seems to help with the choking. After another grueling minute of coughing up more water, I look around and see that I’m sitting just a few feet away from the ocean. I also notice a surrounding crowd of people gawking at me with alarmed looks.
I have no idea where to start with this one since it is not my typical read, but it definitely gets Four Mean Hearts from me! This book is such a great book to read when you need something different. It has twists and turns and kept me guessing the whole book. In fact, I am still guessing! It still has a very sweet romance aspect to it which I definitely loved, but it’s not the main focus of the book.
Chloe is nothing like any heroine I have ever read in a book. She is nineteen, but in some ways is so naïve and still acts like a child. At times this would drive me crazy, but I had to remind myself of her circumstances growing up and how sheltered she was. Shari Ryan did a great job at somehow balancing her actual age and her immaturity due to her sheltered life. Her mind drifts are so much better than her actual life. I can’t blame her at all for wanting to remain in her mind. She is a likeable and infuriating character all at the same time.
Alex is also very different, but also very much the same as most heroes. He loves fiercely and is very protective of those he loves. He is young, but has lived his life much more than Chloe has been able to. I fell so easily for Alex with his surfer boy looks and his lazy, confident attitude in the beginning. The more I learned about Alex and his role in Chloe’s life, the more I liked him.
The plot of this story is what draws you in. It kept me wondering what was going to happen next and how in the hell it all connected the entire time. There are so many secrets to be discovered and so many people to meet that play a part in Chloe’s life both in and out of her day dreams. This is the story of Chloe finally getting a glimpse of happiness after 12 years of misery, but to keep this happiness is quite another thing. She is faced with so many obstacles. At times it is almost too confusing, and I did get a little overwhelmed, but if you want something that is almost like a fantansy but is not fantasy, give this book a try. It’s got mystery, romance, danger, and secrets to be revealed. This book definitely left me wanting more and needing more answers! I am hoping for and waiting impatiently for the next book in Chloe’s life.
Shari J. Ryan has always dreamt of becoming an author and finally decided it was time to pursue her lifelong aspiration by writing her debut young adult novel, Schasm. She has long nurtured a passion for art, reading, and writing, and those hobbies have become a mental escape from her busy life. In the past year, she has put her heart and soul into the creation of her novel, which has taught her that it is never too late and nothing is too hard. The author graduated with a bachelors of science degree from Johnson & Wales University and has written hundreds of articles for various online publications. She is married with two sons.