Chuck Ayers, Ella Burke and Kirsten Bonato all have one thing in common. They are coping with loss, though their circumstances and methods of dealing with it differ. Chuck’s beloved wife Cat recently died from cancer and he’s not ready to let her go, wondering if he should continue in paths of routine they developed together. Ella’s estranged husband Kyle has disappeared with their daughter Riley to parts unknown, draining their bank accounts in the meantime. She now works part time in a bridal shop and delivers newspapers to occupy her mind as she suffers the unbearable pain of the separation from her child and wonder about her well being. Kirsten’s beloved father was murdered during a convenience store robbery, gone in an instant. He was a larger-than-life presence not only in her life but to everyone he encountered. She’s now emotionally paralyzed, unable to proceed with her own plans for the future, including veterinary school, as she continues working at an animal rescue shelter.
the heart of the story…
What I found remarkable about Chuck, Ella and Kirsten was how they all found ways and methods to keep going in the midst of incredible pain. Chuck is 70-years old and while he has two grown children, the loss of a partner of many years can leave you rudderless but he figured out how to get up every morning. His fixation on keeping their annual trip to Hilton Head was symbolic at feeling some sense of normalcy, even though Cat wouldn’t be there. Kirsten was just trying to “feel” again and found herself reaching out to two colleagues for relationship and it anchored her in a strange way. Ella’s situation was the one that almost broke my heart because her pain was the most palpable and unimaginable. Her inner thoughts powerfully portrayed her tragedy, so much so that sometimes it was difficult to listen to in those moments but she kept engaging to maintain her sanity. All three were wonderful illustrations of the human condition and how loss effects us.
I enjoyed all three narrators and found their performances significant in that they didn’t succumb to drama in representing their characters, even Ella’s story, though I heard her fragility. While the story would be profound in any format, listening to them made it even more poignant.
the bottom line…
This is such a tender story, told quietly through three admirable characters who were determined to survive their pain and losses. Though they weren’t sure of the paths to take to do that, they weren’t afraid to risk trying. I especially loved the ways in which they intersected and rooted for them to triumph. I took a risk with a new-to-me author on a topic that could be treacherous ground for me and came out of it feeling emotionally uplifted. Definitely checking out the author’s backlist.
- Release Date: November 29, 2022
- Narrators: Stacey Glemboski, Melissa Redmond & Byron Wagner
- Audio Length: 8 hours, 41 minutes
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Libro.fm
(Thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)