WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND by Rochelle B. Weinstein


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A series of tragedies teaches one woman the difference between youthful passion and married love in Weinstein’s debut romance.

Jessica Parker is a spirited 16-year-old Angeleno living with her widowed mother and doing her best to hide her grief over her father’s death. While visiting the hospital where her mother works, Jessica meets 22-year-old Harvard medical student Jonas Levy and sparks fly. Jonas’ father, Adam, is dying of pulmonary fibrosis and his family is a fixture at the hospital that summer. Smitten with sexy Jonas and drawn to his close-knit family, she begins seeing him outside the hospital, despite the age difference—and despite Jonas’ long-term girlfriend, Emily. Jessica falls head over heels and Jonas seems to reciprocate, but when Adam dies, Jonas abruptly ends the fling. Her heartache lingers, but Jessica moves on to film school and an enviable job as a music supervisor with famous Hollywood producer Marty Tauber. They eventually marry and have a child, and Jessica finds fulfillment in her family and career until a tragic accident puts her marriage in jeopardy. During this period of uncertainty, an explosive secret is revealed and Jessica is unexpectedly reunited with Jonas. Unsure of Marty’s devotion and confronted with feelings she thought long buried, Jessica is forced to choose between her husband and the man she always considered the love of her life. Weinstein’s novel is a bit uneven, with the dilemmas Jessica faces as an adult proving more compelling than her teenage romance with Jonas. It requires considerable skill to depict young love with freshness, let alone to convince readers Jessica’s feelings are so extraordinary that even years later, after motherhood and a happy marriage, she would still take them as seriously as she did in adolescence. Unfortunately, the novel does not quite achieve these feats. The narrative is further weakened by Jessica’s penchant for maudlin flights of self-psychologizing instead of allowing readers to infer her feelings through her behavior. But the story’s twists and turns generate real tension, and Weinstein renders Jessica’s feelings with enough complexity that her ultimate decision carries emotional weight.

A soapy novel that strains credibility at times but still manages to tell a good love story.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1466236318
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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