Publisher: Cincinnatus Press (April 17, 2013)
Format: Kindle edition
Reviewed by: Judith
Score: 10/10 sob filled stars
Dear Charles: Do you like to make me cry? Do you? No, really! DO YOU?! I’m still sobbing into hubby’s arm while he just stares at me and tries to shake me off so he can watch some Youtube clip featuring MMA fighters doing whatever it is they do. Your book was just so good. Too good. The whole entire time I kept hoping for a miracle and I kept saying, this is going to have a happy ending. I swear, I can feel it in my bones. I just know it! Right, guys? RIGHT???!
Plot: After a childhood filled with drama that can only come with having 5 sisters, Carrie is finally living a charmed life. She has a fellowship at a prestigious government institution, a sweet and doting husband who fits her perfectly, and a big, loving family. Over a series of several months, all of that comes crashing down as her husband, Ray’s guilt over an incident in Afghanistan eats away at them both and a jealous colleague casts doubt on Carrie’s academic abilities. Then the unthinkable happens: Carrie, Ray, and two of Carrie’s sisters, Jessica and Sarah, are in a horrific car accident. Carrie will be tested beyond what even she
can withstand when she’s presented with a horrible decision forcing her to confront the true meaning of love, redemption, and hope.
Review: [watch out! There are gonna be spoilers] Wow. No, no. That’s not good enough. WOW. Every time I read one of Charles Sheehan-Miles’ books, I am amazed and awed at his ability to weave a story. He can put words on a paper and link them in a way that just breathes life into the characters. It’s not like Carrie and Ray’s story is novel but the way he tells it, alternating between past and present and between Carrie and Ray’s viewpoints, was unique and ensnared me from the beginning. In his hands, this book lived and breathed. In fact, I lived this story for the last three days. I honestly could not put it down. When I first got this book, I was terribly confused as to how there would even be a story, let alone a love story, considering one half of the couple was brain dead but Charles made it work. Not only was he able to give us a convincing and beautifully nuanced love story, he did it without devolving into cheesy cliches. His story is much more subtle than I would have thought possible. It’s at its essence, a love story. But it shows love in all its forms: sisterly, parental, familial, sexual. In a word? Breathtaking.
I don’t want to say too much here because the ending both crushed and exhilarated me. I want you to have the same chance to discover Carrie and Ray and the intense situations life hands them without knowing too much about them. I would be doing you a disservice before you’d ever picked up the book because the less you know, the wilder the ride will be. I will tell you that this is a gorgeously crafted love story and while you may not be happy with the ending (HEA? No? YES?! NO?! I don’t know?! AGHHH!), you will be happy with the journey Charles Sheehan-Miles takes you on to get there. This book is inspiring and uplifting and while I kept shouting at my kindle, “Please, please, please don’t do what I think you’re going to do!”, I enjoyed every minute of it. And I can guarantee, you will too.
So this books gets from me: 10/10 beautifully written and sob-filled stars. Charles: I love you, I hate you, I want so much more from you! Hubby said it best, “Judith. Stop crying. It’s just words on paper. They don’t mean anything.” And maybe that’s true, but in the hands of a master, even a few words however insignificant can wring tears from the most hardened hearts. Seriously, I dare any of you to come out of this dry-eyed! Now here’s why I loved this book so much:
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 10. Carrie sounds like the type of woman you’d love to hate: she’s willowy, beautiful, brainy, and sweet. But her character is so effortlessly good and real that you don’t hate her, you root for her! You only want good things for her and when life keeps punching her, even when she’s down, you’re angry for her. Her character could have so easily been a shrew or someone easily beaten, but she’s not. She’s a real person with complexities and nuances and she deals with all the crap life handles her with a brave attitude I envy.
How much did I like the hero: 10. Ray is the sort of man we all hope to find
in love. A soldier with a dark incident in his past eating away at him. A sexy soldier who’s a gentleman. A hero who helps children, family, and most importantly his wife in their times of need. He’s the most selfless character I’ve come across in a contemporary novel. His final choice gutted me like it was meant to but goodness, I kept hoping he wouldn’t have to do what he did. He was also a man with a lot of integrity and that really hit home. Someone who is willing to go to prison for doing what’s right? That’s a true hero.
How believable is the plot: 10. 100% believable. We’ve got a soldier home from war falling in love with a scientist. They seem mismatched but somehow they just click. The story of how they met and developed a relationship happens organically and there’s nothing forced or unbelievable about it. Then the whole tragic overarching story about their car accident just felt amazingly real and gritty. All in all, this is realism at its best.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Did I mention the whole Master Storyteller bit? Charles Sheehan-Miles was born to write. You can tell by how lyrical and plain good all his books are. And they just keep getting better! This, his 3rd book, is a beautiful tribute to love in all its forms. There are no mistakes, no errors, and everything just flows smoothly from past to present, from Carrie to Ray. The only thing I could say was that maybe some of the backstories were a bit too drawn out but with storytelling like this, you don’t really care (or want less)!
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. I was in a constant state of, “I want to know what happens right now! No, I don’t, it’s only going to be bad! I’m tired of crying! Make it stop! No, these are happy tears! Agh!” Charles caught me and then kept me in thrall the entire time.
Final Score: 10/10
Some of you may complain that this isn’t technically YA and it’s barely NA (hey, it is! There’s talk about them meeting on a college campus. And Ray’s still going to go back to finish his senior year! It totally counts, guys!), but sometimes a good story has to be shouted from the mountaintop. So here I am, shouting. Now, go read this book!