When Jeff is killed in a road accident, two women are devastated – Claire, his wife, and Tish, his co-worker – because they are both in love with him. Whilst dealing with their loss, they are also trying to take care of their children – 12 year old Seth for Claire and 11 year old Zoey for Tish. Plus there’s Tish’s husband who is concerned when Tish suddenly becomes unwell and can’t sleep and then more than a little annoyed when she goes to Jeff’s funeral instead of Zoey’s poetry contest.
It all seems very complicated and, as I started to read, I couldn’t see how it could end well. Yet it did (or as well as it could given Jeff not making it past the prologue). I have to hand it to Catherine McKenzie for taking what could have been an overly sentimental story that did little but tug at the heartstrings and giving me instead a tale that felt very real and honest.
I could imagine what happened to the characters actually happening and the ending felt right as a result. I liked both Claire and Tish and even Jeff, who also got to tell his story in the alternating chapters. None of them were bad people, just ones that made mistakes, possibly some pretty bad ones that could have hurt a lot of people if Jeff hadn’t died. And that’s part of what I liked about the book. Jeff’s death was sad but may well have been for the best, at least in Tish’s case as it let her re-set her life.
I also liked the style the book was written in, the alternating chapters that let Jeff speak as well, and the way each character was distinct from the others (which sometimes doesn’t happen when each get to speak in this way). Catherine McKenzie has a nice way of writing. It felt simpler than it was, drawing me along and into the story. I didn’t think I was thinking too much whilst I was reading but actually realised when I’d finished that I was wondering most of the way through “what would I do?”. All this leads me to say I liked this a lot – recommended reading!