This is a story about life and death; marriage and infidelity; repentance and forgiveness; fidelity and redemption. This is a book that someone who enjoys the play "Our Town" will eat up. I am not one of those people.
It's a book about life. Saphora lives her life under a facade of perfection, taking care of everybody around her. The one day she finally decides to leave her philandering husband, he announces he is dying. Ironically, he chooses to spend his last days at the house she intended to isolate herself while she licked her own wounds.
Bender is a self-centered doctor with a God complex. During his illness, he discovers his own frailty and humanity. He finds God and pleads forgiveness for his sins against Saphora. The children gather and family dynamics play out, as they tend to do during times of crisis, although I thought the sibling dynamics could have used more drama to be more realistic. Maybe that's just my family. That's just sad.
The added twist is Tobias, a boy afflicted with the AIDS virus. He adds a different dimension to the story yet I found it pretty predictable. Most of the characters seemed to be predictable and, besides Saphora, underdeveloped. It was really Saphora's life story.
What I liked, though, was the introduction to each chapter. A quote used to tidily sum up life's purpose and overcoming storms.
Chapter 6: "I am not afraid of storms; for I'm learning how to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott.
Chapter 11: "And what guarantee have we that the future will be any better if we neglect the present? Can one solve world problems when one is unable to solve one's own? Where have we arrived in this process? Have we been successful, working at the periphery of the circle and not at the center?" - Anne Morrow Lindbergh, *Gift from the Sea*
Like my own life, I teared up at the sad parts. Unlike life, I found the coincidences unrealistic.
Writing style is just fine. Story is just fine. The way it touched me was just marginal.