This book begins when Hannah hears a scream and the screeching of car brakes. She runs outside to see that her 12 year old daughter Emily has been hit by a car while riding her bike.
Emily’s mouth is open; her eyes are closed. She is rushed to the hospital.
Hannah waits and waits for news. Finally the doctor comes to tell her that Emily is brain dead, and is being kept alive on ventilators.
This is so hard for Hannah to process. She had conceived Emily via a sperm donor because she wanted a child more than she wanted a partner.
If only she’d been wearing her bike helmet, she tells the doctor. He says it wouldn’t have made a difference. The impact was too severe.
Hannah is reeling with grief, and can barely comprehend what he is saying next. “Please, forgive me, but I need to ask…is your daughter an organ donor?”
She has just heard that she has lost all that is important to her in life, and now they want to know about her organs?
But she realizes that this is what her daughter would want. And she signs the papers.
The other protagonist in this novel is Olivia. Olivia is married to James, an older man. And they have one daughter, Maddie. And she is going to die if she doesn’t get a liver. Soon.
While Hannah is struggling with losing her daughter, Olivia is elated at the news that perhaps the doctor has found a liver that will save her own child.
Emily’s liver saves Maddie’s life.
Maddie can now lead a somewhat normal life. She can go to school, make friends and actually go places with them. She will not have to be in the hospital more often than not.
Olivia is beside herself with happiness. Except for one problem. There is James, the man she married and was so in love with, who, shortly after they married nearly 20 years ago, began to hurt her. Both physically and mentally.
He tells her this is what his parents did to him. So she tries to show compassion, for part of her does love him.
Before Maddie became sick, she had worked out a plan to leave him and take Maddie. She had been saving money he didn’t know about. He seems to watch her every move, so she is always on guard.
Then when Maddie became sick, she knew that without James’ money and power, she must postpone her plans. Indefinitely.
Women who are abused always think they can change their abuser. And every time the abuser comes to them, head hanging in guilt, they believe that their relationship has turned a vital corner. And that he has seen the error in his ways, and that it will now stop.
But it never stops.
This book is about two women on different ends of the spectrum. Hannah who is self-sufficient and has her own hair salon. And Olivia who married young and became trapped in her marriage.
It is about women and friendship, and the ways men often try to isolate their partner so that his control is complete.
It is about hoping beyond hope that things will change, though secretly you know they won’t, no matter what you do.
It is about what you would do for your child. What you would sacrifice. Even if that sacrifice is your own life.
Amy Hatvany is an excellent novelist who understands the nuances of womens’ friendships, and how they strengthen one another. Hatvany is masterful in weaving these friendships together into a bond that cannot be broken.
Amy Hatvany graduated with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist.
In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on her passion: writing books.
She has written Best Kept Secret, Outside The Lines, The Language Of Sisters, and Heart Like Mine. She lives in Seattle with her family.