When Mattie Hart is diagnosed with ALS, her world is forever changed. Will she survive? And if so, how?
Behind the shiny façade of her idyllic life, Mattie Hart feels as though she is gradually falling apart. After sixteen years of marriage, she has discovered that her husband, Jake, a high-profile defense attorney, is having yet another affair. But it is only when Jake finally confesses his infidelity and goes to live with his girlfriend that a far greater tragedy descends. Mattie is diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that severely affects her life expectancy and everything she holds dear. Racked with guilt over his wife’s diagnosis, Jake returns home to take care of Mattie. In this most daunting and unexpected of circumstances, Joy Fielding deftly reveals the astonishing power of love to defy the greatest odds and to heal the deepest wounds.
Terminal illness becomes a catalyst for change in this generally affecting if sometimes maudlin drama by the bestselling author of Missing Pieces and See Jane Run. At 36, art dealer Mattie Hart seems to be enjoying a perfect life. Her husband, Jake, is a brilliant criminal defense lawyer; her teenage daughter, Kim, is lovely and affectionate; and the Harts have a gorgeous home in the Chicago suburbs. But ever since their hasty marriage 16 years ago--Mattie got pregnant on their first date--Jake has been chafing at the bit, sleeping around and neglecting his wife. Until now, Mattie has managed to ignore his infidelities. But his most recent affair, with freelance writer Honey Novak, is more serious, and Jake plots to leave Mattie just as she plans to confront him. Matters come to crisis when Mattie is found to have debilitating Lou Gehrig's disease, with the prognosis of only a short time to live. Jake is guilt-ridden; though he has already moved out, he returns home to care for Mattie, meanwhile continuing his liaison with Honey. The complicated emotional situation hurts Kim, who is already struggling with the onset of maturity and the pressures of social popularity. Fielding is good at chronicling the messy tangle of family relationships, delving into Jake's childhood memories of abuse and Mattie's recollections of marital neglect. As the end approaches for Mattie, all three are forced to examine what love really means. None too subtle, the novel nevertheless wins points for honesty and forthrightness, tackling complex issues and gearing readers up for a three-tissue finale. Regional author tour.