Saturday, August 8, 2020

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: With or Without You, by Caroline Leavitt {ends 8/15}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

“I will be back,” Stella insisted. “Don’t you dare give my job to anyone else.”

“Take your time,” Libby said. “What’s the rush?” She looked over at Simon. “She’s going to need you more than ever,” she said carefully. “It’s a long process.”

Stella knew everyone in this room, the other nurses, the doctors, her physical therapist, and they knew her, too. But now they all knew her in a different way. She wasn’t Stella the nurse anymore. She was no longer one of them.

Once Stella wakes from her coma after two months, Simon thinks things will go back to what he used to consider "normal." But Stella after the coma isn’t someone that anyone really knows yet.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: With or Without You, by Caroline Leavitt {ends 8/15}
New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt writes novels that expertly explore the struggles and conflicts that people face in their search for happiness. For the characters in With or Without You, it seems at first that such happiness can come only at someone else’s expense. Stella is a nurse who has long suppressed her own needs and desires to nurture the dreams of her partner, Simon, the bass player for a rock band that has started to lose its edge. But when Stella gets unexpectedly ill and falls into a coma just as Simon is preparing to fly with his band to Los Angeles for a gig that could revive his career, Simon must learn the meaning of sacrifice, while Stella’s best friend, Libby, a doctor who treats Stella, must also make a difficult choice as the coma wears on.

When Stella at last awakes from her two-month sleep, she emerges into a striking new reality where Simon and Libby have formed an intense bond, and where she discovers that she has acquired a startling artistic talent of her own: the ability to draw portraits of people in which she captures their innermost feelings and desires. Stella’s whole identity, but also her role in her relationships, has been scrambled, and she has the chance to form a new life, one she hadn’t even realized she wanted.

A story of love, loyalty, loss, and resilience, With or Without You is a page-turner that asks the question, What do we owe the other people in our lives, and when does the cost become too great?

There are so many delicate and complicated emotions in this story. In the beginning, Simon is sure his band is getting their big break, and he and Stella will travel with the band to LA the next day. Then he and Stella argue, she decides to stay home, but he convinces her they can relax and have one more good evening with the pills he finds in his pocket. But between Stella’s stress and head cold, and Simon’s desperation for them to spend one more happy night together, something goes terribly wrong.

Stella spends the next two months in the hospital in a coma, and Simon spends as much time as possible by her side. Stella’s mother also comes to town, and she and Simon are sure their positive attitudes will bring their Stella back to them. The real story starts when Stella finally does wake up. Everyone has changed over the course of two months, but Stella’s brain has rewired differently than any of them can understand.

While there are plenty of stories of couples growing apart over time, the changes to Stella while she was unconscious, and to Simon as he tries to be the perfect boyfriend begging the universe for her recovery are extreme and fast. They both also have their long-held wishes for the future possibly influencing what their real memories are of the recent past.

The story was beautifully told, and the internal thoughts of Stella seeing everyone as colors when she can’t open her eyes were fascinating. Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. Its study of human nature was intriguing, and I hadn’t read anything similar before.

{click here to purchase - only $9.99 for Kindle!}

Becki Bayley likes her cats, her kids, and a few other people. Find out more about the books she reads at SweetlyBSquared.com.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a galley copy of With or Without You!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Saturday, August 15th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified via email the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

With or Without You, by Caroline Leavitt

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