This book is sweet, depressing, frustrating, and inspiring all at the same time. I feel like my problems are so utterly pathetic and trivial compared to what Elise Crawford went through.
One word I’d use to describe this book is ‘real’. I guess I expected heartbreak and anguish like a good Hollywood drama/chickflick, or a Nicholas Sparks novel – and it does have that, but is also interjected with things that jerk you back to reality and make you realise that a real person had to go through all this. It’s not a sugarcoated sobstory that Hollywood shows you, there is no easy resolution to all the conflict going on.
I like the chronology of this book – it’s not entirely linear. It starts with the day of Mark’s death, then recounts their happy short life together, then moves forward to the morning after and the next 10 years of Elise Crawford’s life. I like how the nonlinear chronology is emotionally jarring – one chapter is immensely depressing, whilst the next is filled with hope and happiness.
I mentioned that this book is frustrating – not because of the writing or anything, but because of how truly horrible people were in the wake of Mark’s death, namely his own family. I can’t believe that they would be so insensitive in taking back all of Mark’s possessions and evicting Elise. And to add insult to injury, she was repeatedly plagued by financial problems and wasnt entitled to welfare payments or any donations made after the tragedy.
I really don’t know how she managed to get through it all, god knows I would have given up early on, based solely on the financial troubles she went through. Her problems are real, there’s no deus ex machina in sight, and there’s not really any reassurance that there’ll be a happy ending. That being said, I love how it does happen, but in the most unsuspecting way. She’s still plagued by Mark’s death, but able to move on.
Surprisingly enough, the part of this book that took the most toll on me was the short story at the end, based on their cat named Spirit. I don’t want to spoil it, but it truly made me weep.
Overall, I really loved this book, and was able to relate to Elise although I havent yet suffered any loss. It’s not sugarcoated at all, and really shows how horrible and insensitive the world can be. I can only hope that I’d be as strong as Elise when going through something like this.
Jerry Dazzlepants December 2009