I have this dilemma when I am reading middle grade books, when I come across an especially sad one like this. I am torn, because on the one hand, I remember how, when I was deep into those middle grades, I could not get enough of these emotionally wrought books, going through long phases of believing sincerely that a book was not good unless I was weeping at the end. Of course, these were the kinds of books I had to finish in the safety of my room, neatly hidden under the covers with a flashlight. I had to smother those cries so my nosy younger sister on the other side of the room would not catch me, and call me out on the blubbering baby that I was. But I loved this kind of book, I admit, and I sought them out on every trip to the library.
So now here I am, all grown up (and then some), and I worry that my daughters will take this story too hard, will take it to heart, will wonder about me when they see what can happen to a seemingly ordinary Mom in a short span of time. Should I worry about them reading this book? Usually, when I worry about things like that, it just seems to float right over their heads, and they continue on as before, without a care in the world. They are somehow able to maintain their own reality, and understand that all of this is just fiction after all. Then, I convince myself that they are grounded, and not heartless. But I have witnessed them crying over a book (ok, it was a cat they were crying for, but still, they got it), and it makes me realize I cannot shelter them completely from the world. So, you see, it is a no-win situation for me. I am left — after reading this beautiful, moving, heart-wrenching book — weeping, and overwhelmingly sad. It is not a book with the ending neatly tied up in a precious bow, and I admire that. But I was hoping for just a tiny bow at least. It took me a week to even think about writing a review after I read this, I felt like I needed a little recovery time in order to be more objective.
So no, this is not a book I would cheerily recommend. It is, as the reviews have said, a stunning debut. It will wound you, this book, it will bear down on you, and make you weak. But you will be thankful every day for what a blessed life you so ungratefully live each and every day. Or maybe that’s just me.