Saturday, 22 June 2013

Book Review: If I Should Lose You

If I Should Lose You
Natasha Lester
Fremantle Press
9781921888786

There are multiple ways of thinking about the human body, and If I Should Lose You is a book that finds a poignant way to unite the two most disparate of them; medicine, and art.  Camille, a transplant co-ordinator, is used to helping families through the process of donating the organs of their loved ones but her job becomes shockingly close to home when her oldest daughter Addie, who has had a liver disease since birth, suddenly needs a transplant.  Addie is critically ill but not top priority and faces a long wait for her liver.  Camille suddenly finds herself wishing for accidents, waiting for someone else's child to die.

But Camille is also curating an art show based on the work of her father and her mothers' lover Jack, both of whom were inspired by Alix's body- Dan with sculpture and Jack with painting.  Camille is reading her mother's diary, creating a love story to bind all the artwork together, but she is reluctant to know some of the facts about her mother's life- her grief at the death of Camille's father, her relationship with Jack, and perhaps the nature of her death.  With all of this occurring, and Camille's home life falling to bits, it is hard not to be moved by this tale of tragedy that explores both the physical and emotional fragility of the human body.

At times the book is reminiscent of My Sister's Keeper- asking just how a life threatening illness can affect a family.  Camille's marriage to Paul is on thin ice.  We read from Camille's point of view, and therefore see him the way she does- absent, distant and prioritising someone else.  We are also treated to the spectacular show of Camille's personal battle; her strength, her sorrow, her outbursts and heartbreak, and over all the redemption she finds in forgiveness.

The book contains stunning dialogue, and is really carried by scenes where characters work through their differing points of view.  It is clear that the book has been researched in great detail, and while the author's interest in the subject matter is clear, I am pleased to see that the book did not descend into a hundred page long essay about organ donation.

If I Should Lose You is a book about motherhood, and what that means.  It is believable and moving, and prompts me to ask: do you know how your family feel about organ donation?  Maybe it's time to ask.

Four Stars.

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