Sibley's debut dissects the ethics of a patient's right to die with dignity as a family is torn by a decision to terminate life support. Neurosurgeon Matt Beaulieu finally marries the love of his life, astrophysicist Elle McClure, having known her since he was two years old. After several miscarriages, the couple give up on the idea of having a baby, but when Elle falls and suffers severe head trauma, Matt's life falls completely apart. He knows her biggest fear was to die on life support, as her mother did. During preparations to remove her from life support, it's discovered that she is pregnant and if she remains connected she could potentially carry the fetus to term. Matt decides her desire to have a child would supersede her fear of life support, but his own mother takes him to court as executor of Elle's living will. Jake Sutter, Matt's college roommate, takes the case, using Matt's personal dilemma to serve his own prolife political agenda. The family's anguish is agonizing, each member doing what they believe to be Elle's desire or in her best interest, and while the ending is predictable, the journey is heartrending and tragic.
There’s nothing like devastating moral quandary to spark reading, and this trade paperback original would be a great book club choice.
Sibley does a wonderful job of exploring a complex and controversial moral issue, skillfully giving both sides of the story…. This is a gripping, thoughtful, heart-wrenching, and well-written debut that would be a great discussion vehicle for certain book groups.
While the novel is a fictionalized Schiavo-like intrafamily moral war, Sibley ups the ethical stakes by interweaving pregnancy with end-of-life issues. Characters are well-drawn, although the arrogant vindictiveness of Cunningham may be overblown. While she does take the easy way out regarding the end-of-life question, Sibley translates medical and legal issues solidly, bringing both emotion and reason into an examination of our collective failure to agree upon when life begins and ends. A literate and incandescent Nicholas Sparks-like love story complicated by intense moral and ethical questions.
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