A cancer survivor confronts her demons.
After a hard-fought battle with a brain tumor, 32-year-old Jessie Long has been cancer-free for five years. Laid off from her job as a public-school art teacher, Jessie decides to make some changes. She’s tired of viewing herself as a victim, and she’s languishing in Richmond, Va., under the watchful eye of her devoted mother and meddlesome sister. Eager to move on, she relocates to her family’s small cottage on Cape Cod. She sees this move as a sabbatical, a chance to focus on her jewelry line (she crafts bracelets and lockets out of human hair) and to evaluate her culpability in a string of failed romances. LeClaire (The Law of Bound Hearts, 2004, etc.) paints a nuanced portrait of a woman who continually falls for the wrong men, yet always finds the energy to rebound from the losses in her life—Jessie is both infuriating and inspiring. Unable to stay secluded for long, she signs up for a volunteer hospice program and is assigned to care for Luke, a handsome divorced fisherman suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer. Naturally, he and Jessie fall hopelessly in love—hopeless being the operative word, since Luke is nearing death. He confides that he wants to end his suffering through an overdose of pain narcotics. Jessie assists his suicide, but after his death is charged with Luke’s murder. Will the jury believe her, or his vengeful daughter?
Instead of hammering away at the familiar theme of loss, LeClaire packs this winning novel with resounding life lessons and a resonating set of romantic relationships.