Published by: Hyperion Voice
Published on: September 11, 2012
Page Count: 320
My Reading Format: Audiobook gifted to me by my wonderful father. Thanks, Dad!
Audiobook Published by: Hyperion
Narrator: Karen White
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 18 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
Maura Corrigan is a fulfilled stay at home mother in Chicago whose standard weekday routine was to walk with her sons as they rode their bikes to school, making sure they had their bicycle helmets on and that they looked both ways before crossing the street. On this particular morning, Maura was happily distracted. Yes, she noticed that James’ helmet was askew, but wasn’t his love of life part of growing up? Was it necessary to always be on top of her kids? She let him get a little further ahead of her than normal and, as she looked down to read a text message that brought a smile to her face, James’ carefree bike ride to school came to a tragic end.
Those We Love Most is not an easy read. From the moment James left the driveway without his helmet securely fastened I knew that what lie ahead was my worst nightmare. When you add the guilt associated with taking your eyes off of your child for just a short period of time, it was apparent it was going to be an emotionally battering read. What followed that day was full of pain, lies, regret, and guilt. Not just on Maura’s end. Her husband Pete never really grew out of his frat boy drinking habits and it had been putting a strain on their marriage well before James’ accident. Maura’s parents, swift to come to the Corrigan family’s aid after the accident, were in a crisis of their own. Roger was at an age where his thoughts should have been looking toward retirement, but he was invigorated by his work and by his mistress in Florida. All the while, Margaret feels less and less inclined to continue to play the role of dutiful wife. As I was reading this book I kept praying for redemption to seep in.
This novel is told from the points of view of Maura, Margaret and Roger. They each are extremely intelligent and introspective people. This gives the reader a great deal of insight into who they are and how they came to be in their current situations. It also led to frustration. I felt as though I was inside her head so much that I knew that Maura knew better. Of course most human beings do know better when they make poor choices and casting their own guilt onto a scapegoat, but I wanted to shake her out of her mourning. It wasn’t necessarily that I was judging the characters. Each spouse in both marriages had their own secrets and failings. No one could cast stones, though I had the least sympathy for Roger. I found him to be bullheaded and selfish. I must admit that I was not entirely sad at the chain of events that took place in his life. I don’t know if it was the author’s intention or not, but I found it fitting that he reached his crisis point so soon after he deciding to get what he wanted from another person before bringing down the hatchet. Margaret may have been cold, but she was far better to Roger than he ever deserved.
For me Those We Love Most would have been hard to read in print. Being inside of this story was intense. Having Karen White sitting there with me as the story unfolded was a blessing. Her strong, soothing voice was like the calm during the storm. She brought empathy to each character’s voice and let the characters speak without at all betraying her own opinions. This was essential for a novel like Those We Love Most. As much as I enjoyed her work on the whimsical The Peach Keeper, I felt this particular title highlighted how well suited Karen White’s narration is to heavier subject matter. I wouldn’t have experienced this novel any other way.
Lee Woodruff has much to say about marriage, family life, and forgiveness in Those We Love Most. Although I felt that Maura’s story line was resolved incompletely and can only come back to haunt her and her family, this novel portrayed the realities of married life and dealing with personal tragedy sincerely and with honesty. The cost of love is so very precious. Redemption is a long time coming in this novel and Woodward respects her readers by not tying everything up into a neat bow. Be prepared for an emotionally challenging read when you pick up Those We Love Most. Reading it with a trusted friend is even better. With Karen White narrating the audiobook, you’re covered.