While initially hesitant about this story, as I wasn’t immediately grabbed by the subject matter, I was astonished to find myself gripped, moved, even enamored by this one. Where Heather Harpham excels is her prose, which is poetic, lyrical, even beautiful.
The story starts with Heather and Brian, who are dating and falling in love. The experience of which is told in a profound, emotionally moving way. Brian doesn’t want children, but Heather is convinced he will change his mind. Of course, almost always a disaster in any relationship- holding out in the hope of their changing. Heather becomes accidentally pregnant and is then aghast and heartbroken on his not having altered his stance with regards to having kids. Crushed, they cling to the relationship for a time longer, and then finally, when this impending divide between them grows too significant to ignore, they part ways.
Yet, despite their breaking up, they remain in touch. Speaking on the phone most nights, she in California while he is in New York (Heather having moved there to stay with her mother for the duration of her pregnancy). Their phone calls beginning on Heather finding out that Gracie, their soon-to-be baby, is a girl, and sending Brian news of such. This sparking what become regular phone calls between them, in which they talk for hours on end.
Neither really knows what is going on. He still doesn’t want kids, which he made clear, respectfully and fairly from the start of their relationship. Yet, they love each other. And further, he is curious and even seems anticipatory of the upcoming birth of their child. Inquiring tentatively of her pregnancy and appointments, of how she is feeling both physically and emotionally. These conversations also managing to bring to the surface some difficult and vulnerable emotions in each of them.
On Gracie’s birth, he flies out to visit and stays for the weekend. What ends up being a cozy, heart rending, somewhat bewildering experience for them both. Brian asking Heather on the weekend concluding, “when may I come visit next? I already cant wait.”
Weeks later, Gracie is diagnosed with a rare blood disease. One that is likely to result in her early death, unless she is able to raise the money to go through a highly experimental, risky, and expensive medical procedure which could save her life. Devastated, this is around the time when Brian decides he is all in. His having fallen in love with his daughter, as well as he and Heather having grown incredibly close.
What unfolds following is a gripping, emotionally fraught, roller coaster of a story. Its a love story of the utmost, on multiple planes. Romantic, familial, and friendship love. Its a story of digging deep and accessing your innermost strength and courage, especially in the moments when you think unearthing such might be all but impossible. Its a tale of raw vulnerability and truth, even when those truths may contradict each other- which is of course, often the case in the realm of human emotion.
This is a story and ultimately, discovery, of how sometimes the very thing of which you were most afraid and certain of not wanting, sometimes turns out to be that which you needed and would come to love most. Its about the contradictions and layers in all of us, and how we contend with and make sense of them.
I was especially inspired and smitten with the prose of this book, finding her writing to be moving, metaphoric, and just gorgeous. As well as witty, smart, and heartfelt. While initially skeptical if I would be into this story based on the synopsis, I was astounded to find myself captivated and swept up within- finishing it some three or four days after starting.
I highly recommend this emotionally moving, well written read. I imagine it just might surprise you in some major ways. And whether you have children or not, whether you want to have children of your own or not, this story is engaging and emotionally affecting, regardless. If you have ever loved anyone, dealt with challenges in a romantic relationship, been afraid of losing someone, you will easily find meaning and worth in this story.