When Crystal, moved from a small town in Oklahoma – where she had lived all her life, had friends, belonged to a church community, and loved her job – to Bangkok, Thailand, she experienced profound loneliness. Her husband went to work every day and stayed out many evenings, and she was not successful in figuring out how to make friends or find community in such a strange and different place. And her loneliness, coupled with a series of adverse event she experienced, made her very ill.
Even though this novel takes place in the mid-1970s, the issue of loneliness has resonance today. Recent research reported by the U.S. Health Resources & Service Administration has found that one in five Americans say they feel lonely or socially isolated. Over one-quarter of the U.S. population lives alone, by themselves – a number that has been increasing over the past decade. And loneliness has consequences. The research says that loneliness is more damaging to someone’s health than obesity or than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The research points to the need for connectedness and social support as a component of any wellness program.