Title: The Jungle Within
Author: Charles M.
Format: Print copy mailed by author
My rating: 3.5/5
When Evan and Katie said “I do,” they expected to navigate life together side-by-side. But when a car accident and a tawdry affair disrupt life as they know it, Evan and Katie are forced to venture on alternate paths, alone. In the darkest depths of an unforgiving coma, Evan fights to survive the treacherous jungle of his mind. He embarks on a spiritual journey to understand the meaning of life and the beauty of death…forcing him to face his deepest fear. Meanwhile, Katie ventures through her own guilt. On a strenuous moral journey, she juggles the consequences of infidelity and the strain of caring for her unresponsive husband. But are their paths truly separate? Or are they simply on parallel journeys that are destined to converge?
What are those internal battles we fight? What does our sub-conscious tell us? What is in that in-between of life and death? This novel provides rich symbolism around religion, morals/ethics, and the confines of our mind. At first, I thought it was the typical story of spouse has an affair, realizes it is wrong when it is too late, and spends the rest of the novel trying to redeem themselves. However, I found the intricacies of both Katie and Evan’s thoughts and processes fascinating and eye-opening to the choices we make as well as the consequences of those – no matter the intent. Intent vs. impact – 2 different things. It is a brilliant metaphor of surviving the jungle in one’s mind. The deep, dark, and mysterious parts of life that we ignore, don’t understand, or don’t know existed. But this isn’t just when we are asleep or in a coma, one’s poor mental health can also be a jungle, in which Katie suffers greatly in the present and awake. So intriguing was this connection between two people that found a way to communicate in the deepest parts of their minds where they were unable to together, awake, and present.
Life, death, fate, all infused smartly in the story. One of my favorite quotes was ” As long as death was lurking, then nothing else in life could hurt him? A concept that could affect the entire world. That would mean that the burden was being alive. Living was the real struggle…” Everything does die, we just don’t know when/how or sometimes even why in most cases. My own mind is thinking critically about these huge concepts and bigger picture ideas that go beyond me as an individual.
In terms of our soul and our earthly body, wow. I am not sure I have the words or capacity to put those thoughts down as I am still reflecting on the takeaway. Evan, when speaking with Qala, was told “Your mind, in conjunction with your soul, is you. One is temporary, and the other, forever. Unfortunately, Evan, this you….is the part that is temporary. This part dies. I am the other half…the other half that connects everything in the universe. I am the part that lives on forever – the part that never dies.” Beautifully written, along with several other metaphors and out-of-body experiences detailed elegantly.
Read The Jungle Within if you like the themes of:
- Life and Death
- Mental Health