Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Simon & Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).
Summary: After an accident that left her best friend in a permanent vegetative state, Shelby falls to pieces. Her survival guilt is so strong that she can’t function, and as penance, she gives away her life and happiness in bits and pieces. However, as the right people come into her life, she begins to let herself live, a little bit at a time, until one day, she finds she’s built a life and can imagine a future in which she can finally let herself be happy.
Review: Having never read Alice Hoffman before, I didn’t know what I was in for, but being fully aware of her reputation and what she’s written in the past, I had a strong suspicion it would be good. Really good. And I was right. This story is wrought with emotion, bringing me to tears on several occasions. Shelby’s struggle was so easy to relate to, so painful and palpable, that it was an easy read to get sucked into. In fact, because of where I was at emotionally in my own life, I had to set the book aside after starting it because it was more than I could handle in that moment.
Though I haven’t been in exactly Shelby’s shoes, I know those emotions, the crushing weight of living with guilt that isn’t really yours to bear, and struggling to pull yourself out from under it. I imagine there are a lot of people that will identify with Shelby’s inner battles, and realistic or not, seeing her find her way made me feel very hopeful. For me, the message of the book was that we have to learn to forgive ourselves, we have to stop punishing ourselves for things we couldn’t control and things we can’t change, and we have to let the right people in because we can’t get where we need to go alone.
Great read. Definitely recommend it.