I don’t normally pick up contemporary fiction, especially not these days when all I want is an escape. But then, a funny thing happened…I actually got tired of reading escapist fluff. Can you imagine? Yeah, neither could I. Maybe I finally could stomach a little bit of reality—even if that reality was about a devoted and loving husband losing his wife after a terrible accident.
Dr. Matt Beaulieu is madly in love with his wife, Elle. She is smart, caring, and an all-around incredible woman. So it’s a terrible shock when one day, Matt receives an emergency call at work that Elle has sustained an irreparable brain injury. Matt, though grieving, is ready to pull the plug on Elle’s life support before he discovers that Elle is pregnant. Matt wants to fight to keep Elle alive so the baby will live, but Matt’s mother, Linney, is not so certain Elle would want this. Mother and son fight against each other to decide Elle’s fate, while Matt looks back on his life with Elle, and the life they could have had together.
I was ready to cry when I picked up this book. If I was going to read about reality, I might as well cry about something besides what 2020 brought. But more so, the story of Elle and Matt sounded compelling and human. Plus, the moral debate about what to do with Elle after her accident is enthralling. Neither side feels completely right or wrong.
Matt wants to keep Elle on life support because Elle is carrying a baby. Before her accident, Elle tried several times to carry a baby to term, but she had an autoimmune disease that messed with her blood clotting properly. For Elle to possibly carry a baby successfully thrills Matt. He does not like seeing Elle dying on a table, but the possibility of fulfilling Elle’s greatest wish—to have a child—is the greatest hope he could have.
On the other hand is Matt’s mother, Linney, who does not want to continue Elle’s life support. Elle watched her mother, who was also Linney’s best friend, die a slow painful death from breast cancer, so her greatest fear was dying slowly. Linney believes that keeping Elle tied to a machine when she was already dead is fulfilling Elle’s greatest fear.
I find it so fascinating how both Elle’s greatest wish and fear tie into her condition. And again, you can see the reasoning behind both sides of the argument. You feel Matt’s love and desperation to save his child, but you also cannot argue against Linney wanting to save Elle the death she so long feared.
Long story short, there is no clear-cut villain. Elle’s prickly ex-boyfriend, Adam, does appear to advocate for cutting Elle’s life support. However, the story does not paint him as a villain, however much of a controlling douche he is. I certainly didn’t like him, but I liked how he just faded into the background when his part was done—no final, dramatic confrontation between him and Matt was needed.
This is a good book to cozy up in bed with, or read by a fire. Maybe it’s because the book’s tone is so melancholy that you need something warm to offset it all. In the end, I did not cry, though I did tear up at the end. After all, I’d at least gotten a story with compelling though flawed characters, and the emotional gravity was high.