Lovely’s debut novel, a touching journey of the heart, tracks what happens to two Midwestern families after a death and a gift of life.
Archeologist Alex Voormann and his plant biologist wife, Isabel, had a pleasant enough life in Iowa until Isabel was struck and killed while riding her bicycle. Alex reluctantly complies with her wish to be an organ donor, which saves the life of Janet Corcoran, a 34-year-old Chicago art teacher and mother of two.
Lovely thoughtfully weaves the tales of these two families together, tracing the realities of love and loss of all kinds as Alex attempts to move on, the man who was driving the truck that killed Isabel begins popping up in unexpected places, and Janet seeks out Alex and Isabel’s mother to thank them and express her guilt and empathy. Lovely does a great job of staying out of sappy melodrama as the gravity of Isabel’s death pulls the cast together in memorable fashion. The delicate handling of loaded material, attention to detail and depth of character make this a standout.
This was an incredibly well written book about organ donation and the people involved. It was thought provoking and raised many questions and issues that I never really thought about before relating to organ donation. It was clear that Lovely did his research and the details and metaphors he used were amazing.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the book was that it followed several different characters who were involved with the organ donation. The readers were able to see how the donor’s family was coping with their loss as well as how the recipient’s family was moving on after receiving a second chance at a new life. In addition, we also got to see how the man that caused the accident was reacting to it. It was interesting to see how everyone reacted to one common event from all the different angles.