In Stephen Lovely's debut novel, he delves into the hearts and minds of his characters in the aftermath of the tragic death of a young botanist, Isabel. In the prologue, we meet Isabel riding her bicycle in a race to arrive home before a threatening storm breaks. The author does a wonderful job of building up the sense of urgency on Isabel's part. A truck cresting the hill does not see Isabel in time and the inevitable happens. The story goes back and forth in time and gives the reader deeper insight as to the circumstances before and after the accident.It also details in a very well written and detailed manner of the ripple effects to all directly involved and extending to their families.
Alex, the grieving widower is having not only a hard time with the fact that he lost his wife so tragically, but the fact that she was an organ donor, never having been comfortable with the idea of pieces of his wife being parceled out to others. Isabel's mother, on the other hand, takes comfort in the fact that somewhere out there, Isabel's heart is still beating. This is really at the heart of the matter. Alex seems to resent the fact that he has suffered so much for someone else's gain. Add in the heart recipient and all the angst associated with being in need of an organ donation, the upset to normal family life and marriage, you have the recipe for a story of intense feelings. One more ingredient to stir the plot is the addition of the truck driver, who in order to assuage his guilt, begins to think the recipient should be grateful to him for the accident that took one life has now saved hers. Even though the donor program is supposed to be confidential, somehow the people involved learn of each other's existence and that is when the multitude of problems begin.
I found this a really interesting novel seeing the perspective of the characters from both sides of the accident. It was almost hard for me to fathom why some of them felt the way they did, especially the involvement of the truck driver. Lovely managed to explore these feelings from all angles and they were revealed via flashback mode in a plot that was truly intriguing. Not only did I want to find out what happened to Alex but also the family members of the recipient. There were several spots that were a little wordy, especially describing the heart donor process, but other than that, the book totally held my attention and was extremely well written. I would recommended reading this novel for book clubs as I think there are numerous avenues of discussion that could be taken. I really liked the book and rate it 4****