There are times that a book just seems to come at just the right moment. Perhaps it is because of a life situation, a death or birth, or just because one finds themselves at a junction in life where the subject matter hits home with multiple punches. I have a 94 year old mother who is frail and as I read this book my thoughts constantly drifted to her and the end of life choices she and I will eventually need to make. Death is an absolute. None of us escape death, none of us return from it, none of us know what awaits us.
Dawn Edelstein is studying to be an Egyptologist. She is a young woman on the cusp of fulfilling a dream when a phone call comes that changes forever the direction her life will take. Her mother is dying, and even though she has fallen in love with Wyatt Armstrong, another Egyptologist, she rushes home to be with her mother and her young brother at this stressful time. She will not return to Egypt to the land and the man she loves as duty to her mother and brother prevail.
Dawn meets a man, a quantum physicist, Brian, who is brilliant and explores the concept that we as living things could in theory live in alternate universes where are choices are different, and our lives are not ones we are now experiencing. They have a child, a daughter, and eventually marry but there is always at the back of Dawn’s thoughts the idea of Wyatt. Dawn loves her husband but with a love not equal to that she shared with Wyatt. Will her love for Brian win the day or is Wyatt the person she can’t live without?
These are multiple themes explored in this story. The concept of ancient Egyptians and their belief in an afterlife and preparation for it was fascinating. Dawn’s eventual job as a death doula offered a unique and heart felt perspective into how we can prepare one for their demise. And …what if we were able to live an alternate life? Would we have been with the person who first filled our life and our soul with his or her love? How many of us have thought back and wondered what road we would have traveled if our life followed the pathway of a first love? Where are these first loves now?
I found the book to be utterly fascinating and it touched my emotional core and made me think and wonder and reflect. Do we actually at the end of our days wonder what if? Do we come to terms with the life we lead or do we constantly think perhaps if only.
I absolutely loved this story, its message, its cautionary warning that life is fleeting and we need to grab onto the moments that thrill us. There is much spoken of in this book of the ancient Egyptian stories and rituals of long ago with their plethora of gods, paths to follow, and rituals. I was fortunate in understanding this section, since I taught a unit on Egypt for many years to the many classes that passed through my teaching life. It fascinated me and drew me back to the wonder and joy my students and I experienced exploring and learning of what came before us.
I most definitely recommend this book for all the ways it might conjure up your thoughts, make you see a reality that perhaps you didn’t chose, and realize that all of us will eventually face a life that will come to an end. It’s the road we travel that we see in the end, its joy, its sorrows and perhaps the people we left behind along the way.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book due out on September 22, 2020.
and here’s the author:
Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven. She is also a member of the advisory board for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.
Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven. She is also a member of the advisory board for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.
Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children.