Review

Standing Still

by Kelly Simmons

The
worst many of us can imagine often involves captivity and torture,
kidnapping and murder. There are, however, subtler but no less
devastating personal disasters. What if we were to find out that
our spouse is not who they say they are? Perhaps we live in fear
that our own dark secrets are going to be revealed. Maybe we
discover that we find a comfort or emotional freedom in
bondage.

Kelly Simmons’s dark and exciting novel, STANDING STILL,
explores the emotional tensions in a kidnapping that is far more
complicated than it appears on the surface. In fact, for the woman
at the center of the story, the actual abduction is the least of
her worries.

Claire Cooper, prone to debilitating panic attacks and troubled by
a litany of real and imagined dangers, is often left alone in her
sprawling dream house with her three young daughters. Her
charismatic husband Sam is away on business more than he is at
home. One night her deepest fears are realized when Claire finds an
intruder standing over her sleeping daughter. “Take
me,” she begs the kidnapper. And he does. She is dragged in
her nightgown and taken away in his car. For the next six days
Claire is bound and kept in a motel room, while her captor and his
mysterious and unseen boss negotiate with Sam for her
release.

Interestingly enough, a bond develops between Claire and her
kidnapper, who is surprisingly sensitive and even caring. He turns
out to be a widower whose loss is related to Sam's work, and what
he reveals makes Claire rethink the man to whom she is married. She
also begins to examine her reliance on drugs like Xanax and her
relationship with her children. Readers will have much to
contemplate as well: Did she go willingly with the unnamed
kidnapper? Why, later, does she have such a hard time paring from
him?

Simmons’s prose is graceful yet straightforward, and Claire
is a compelling character. STANDING STILL raises a number of very
intriguing questions about motherhood, marriage, ethics and mental
health. But Simmons fails to fully delve into these topics that the
story suggests are important. Instead she touches evenly, if a bit
lightly, on all of them, resulting in a good but ultimately
uncommitted novel.

Readers surely will be fascinated as Claire's story, both that of
her present trial and former trauma, unfolds. STANDING STILL plays
with the idea of worst fears come true and explores how perhaps
what we fear most is not the worst that can happen to us.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on January 23, 2011

Standing Still
by Kelly Simmons

  • Publication Date: February 5, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Psychological Suspense
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria
  • ISBN-10: 0743289722
  • ISBN-13: 9780743289726