by Lilian Nattel
This is a novel about grief; not just grieving death, but grieving the past, grieving failed relationships, and grieving “what could have been “.
Our main character Joan is a middle-aged palliative care doctor who gently and respectfully helps the critically ill navigate their remaining months on earth. However, When her mother Sheila becomes ill, Joan finds it difficult to not only help her mother find peace but also difficult to reconcile with her past.
Early in the novel, Joan’s sister Vivan ( a nurse working with Doctors without Boarders) Skypes to tell her that she is going to a remote village to help with the Ebola crisis. Vivian requests that if anything happens to her, Joan is to take on her persona and continue communicating with their mother via text and messenger until Sheila dies, thus sparing her the heartache of losing a daughter in her final days.
Yes, soon Joan gets word that Vivian does indeed die, leaving Joan’s responsibility of helping her mother come to peace with both her daughters.
This novel obviously does deal a lot with death and dying, not exactly light reading fare. But it also deals with love and hope and the strength that comes with facing your truth.