Book Review: The Silent Patient

Book Review: The Silent Patient

Emma Van Wickler, Staff Writer

The Silent Patient is a physiological thriller written by Alex Michaelides depicting the mystery that is Alicia Berenson. Alicia Berenson, a woman in a perfectly normal and seemingly happy marriage,  one day shoots her husband point blank five times in the face and then never speaks again. The book takes place 6 years after this event and Alicia has still never said a word and by default was placed in a mental institution for the criminally insane. Theo, an obsessed physiotherapist that wants nothing more than to help Alicia talk, finds his way into being her therapist and we read most of this book from his point of view.

I would say the best part of this book is that as readers we slowly start to resonate with the obsession Theo has with Alicia and the night of Gabriel’s, Alicia’s husband, murder. He wants to know just as badly what happened to Alicia and goes to desperate lengths to find out.  While Theo is on the edge of his seat, so are we and when he finds out the answers, so do we. Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the few journal entries we get from Alicia leading up to the day of the murder. We get a glimpse into how she was feeling and what could’ve caused such a random act of violence on a man she claimed up and down she loved. This is a nice touch because it is the only other perspective we get besides Theo’s and it gives us an upper hand on knowledge of what Alicia went through.

For people who don’t typically find themselves enjoying reading or would rather wait for a movie to come out for this book, I promise you it is worth thirty minutes out of your time everyday. Not only is it an addicting book with a burning question of “Why won’t Alicia talk?”, it also has very short chapters that are only three to four pages long that make it very easy to get through without getting sick of reading too quickly. The writing of Michaelides in this book needs to be appreciated on another level. The plot twist engraved in this book not only changed the story, but the way to read the book itself and I almost had to go back and read every page again. 

When I finished the book I was left thinking about how genius or insane somebody had to have been to come up with this story. This point brings me to a little background of our author, Alex Michaelides. Alex Michaelides, before becoming a successful New York Times Best Selling author, was a dried out failed Screenwriter struggling to make a name for himself. His inspiration for this book came from Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie was a well- known British novelist for her mystery whodunits, such as Murderer on the Orient Express. With this inspiration in mind it’s no wonder that The Silent Patient is such a thriller. So the answer is that Alex Michaelides was not insane at all when writing this book, he was actually just a disheartened writer who says the book writing process was his “edge of desperation”. 

The Silent Patient took Michaelides four years to publish and as of July of this year it has remained on the trade paperback bestseller list for the 46th week. For those of you who know they will never attempt to read this book, the good news is that the film rights have been sold and a movie adaptation is in the works. So, whether you find yourself reading this book or sitting in a movie theater to watch it, I hope you find yourself on the edge of your seat as much as I did.