At the height of her life, Lauren Park was diagnosed with a terminal illness called IPF (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis). She’s married to Joshua, the love of her life, a man who loves her just as deeply. While she’s devastated with her prognosis, she’s more concerned about leaving Josh alone. He’s focused everything around her and Lauren is worried he won’t do well on his own. So, she decides that she’ll reach out from the “great beyond” by leaving him letters, each with a request that will help shift him out of his stages of grief, delivered over the course of the year following her death.
I don’t even know how to express the range of emotions I experienced during Josh’s journey from the depth of despair to someplace lighter. It’s a beautiful, moving story told in such a way that I could never catch my breath. Lauren narrates her story going backwards in time. Josh shares his going forward from Lauren’s funeral. The structure is beyond brilliant for its timing and pacing, both of them providing context at just the right moments, all the while capturing the essence of grief in its unfiltered and raw form. I found myself identifying with Josh in various moments and gaining insights from Lauren as she faced her mortality.
There’s a particular point in the story where I cried the ugly tears but more often I was filled with the hope and anticipation of the promise of Lauren’s next letter. The narrators performances were beyond outstanding as they became Josh and Lauren, so much so that I was convinced they were the characters. You should listen to the book if the audiobook is an available option. I was unprepared to love this story knowing that it was focused on death and grief; that alone makes it exceptional. I’ll never forget it, Lauren or Josh. The ending left me in a wonderful space, which lived up to that initial promise of hope and light.
- Release Date: June 8, 2021
- Narrators: Dion Graham & Xe Sands
- Audio Length: 13 hours, 37 minutes
- Publisher: Recorded Books
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(Thanks to Recorded Books for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)