In this USA Today bestselling debut novel, Neil Abramson explores the beauty and redemptive power of human-animal relationships and the true meaning of communication in all of its diverse forms.
As a veterinarian, Helena was required to choose when to end the lives of the terminally ill animals in her care. Now that she has died, she is afraid to face them and finally admit to herself that her thirty-seven years of life were meaningless, error-ridden, and forgettable. So Helena lingers, a silent observer haunted by the life she left behind-her shattered attorney husband, David; her houseful of damaged but beloved animals; and her final project, Cindy, a chimpanzee trained to use sign language who may be able to unlock the mysteries of animal communication and consciousness.
When Cindy is scheduled for a research experiment that will undoubtedly take her life, David must call upon everything he has learned from Helena to save her. In the explosive courtroom drama that follows, all the threads of Helena's life entwine and tear as Helena and David confront their mistakes, grief, and loss and discover what it really means to be human.
Abramson's next novel, JUST LIFE, published in May 2016.
In this heartfelt though predictable debut, Abramson explores the interconnecting relationships between animals and people, as well as the sensitive topic of scientific animal testing. Though wearying at times with endless narrative on compassion for all living beings, the novel is still touching and emotional. Thirty-seven-year-old lawyer David Colden is reeling from the death of his veterinarian wife, Helena, when he is approached by one of her colleagues, Jaycee, who worked with Helena teaching Cindy, a chimpanzee, to use American Sign Language. The funding for the chimpanzee project is about to come to a halt, and Jaycee initially wants David to obtain a court order so Cindy isn't used in scientific experiments. David refuses at first, too distraught over his loss and taking care of all Helena's pets: three dogs, six cats, horses, and a pig. But when Jaycee breaks into the government institution to "save" Cindy and is arrested, David agrees to represent her in court. Helena narrates from the afterlife and is an important presence in the courtroom during Jaycee's trial. Sudden life-changing events teach David love and acceptance, and while emotion often trumps plot, the focus on animal rights (Abramson is a lawyer who has been recognized by the ASPCA for his legal work) will resonate with animal lovers.
Interesting and Heartwarming
This interesting novel shows an attorney uncovering new ways of being around animals, ultimately prompted by his wife’s death. Interesting story.
Most poetic, thought provoking book I've read in a long time. There are so many levels that are intertwined. Not just a book about our animal companions, but the human condition as well. Wonderful!
This is such a beautiful story. It gives life, all life, value and outlines the ways we are all connected in this life and the next. Personally, it supports my beliefs that all life is precious, and that we have a responsibility to our fellow creatures.