The hustle and bustle of last-minute travel preparation can be extremely hectic: frantically packing belongings, rushing to the airport, checking in, not to mention passing through security. Travel can definitely be horrendous. But what if you find yourself running through a Chicago airport terminal and trying to catch a flight only to stop dead in your tracks when you realize that not only do you not have a clue what gate your flight is at, but you have no idea where you are going or even who you are? It’s a horrific travel nightmare, but for Sydney Stanton, it’s one she can’t wake up from, it’s her reality.
In Yolanda Wallace’s In Medias Res (Bold Strokes Books), Sydney finds herself in O’Hare Airport surrounded by thousands of fellow travelers, yet she can’t remember anything about herself or her apparent trip. Despite the initial shock, Sydney is determined to overcome this mental block and find out who she is and what, or whom, she is running from. Becoming a modern-day Nancy Drew, Sydney must use her surroundings and the few personal items she has in her possession to break down the walls to her past and her present. Her detective abilities lead her to the assumptions that she’s married, based on the wedding ring on her left hand, and that she’s headed to Key West, Florida – information she gained from looking at her airline ticket. But everything else was still a blur.
In Wallace’s humorous story, Sydney’s life is a book written in invisible ink. She has glimpses of parts of her life but still can’t recall the recent past, the events that led up to her running through O’Hare. Sydney’s life is thrown another curveball when she realizes that she’s a little attracted to a woman she meets in Key West. She struggles with this knowledge only to have her husband show up and throw another kink in her already-crazy life. But even through it all, she still can’t get ahold of what she’s been searching for: who she is, what she’s doing in Key West, and what she’s running from. Throwing another kink in Sydney’s already insane memory road trip is her best friend, Jennifer, who seems to be running away from herself as well.
Yolanda Wallace does a brilliant job bringing the character of Sydney Stanton to life. While most of us do not find ourselves in the same predicament as Sydney, we all struggle with our identities, with our sexuality, and with the secrets we keep locked deep inside. Sydney’s journey to find herself leads her to unexpected places and unexplored lands, literally, all in the name of knowledge and love. As Wallace so eloquently puts it: “sometimes you have to forget who you were to remember who you are.”