The Life You Longed For

Maribeth Fischer, Author . Touchstone $25 (326p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9328-0

In Fischer's wrenching second novel, Grace Connolly's youngest son, three-year-old Jack, is terminally ill following a baffling, heartbreaking diagnosis of mitochondrial disease. At times, Grace, a full-time mother of three with a background in epidemiology, feels that everyone else around her (Jack's medical specialists; husband Stephen) has given up hope. Desperate to reclaim her "normal" life, Grace reignites a romance with her first love. Her predictable affair with the almost painfully idealized Noah McIntyre becomes one factor in accusations that Grace has fabricated Jack's disease to gain attention—allegations that result in his removal from her custody just when he is most ill. Fischer (The Language of Goodbye ) has an uphill battle to gain readers' sympathy for an adulterous mother, and for the most part she succeeds. The weight of the disease, science and history trivia that peppers Fischer's prose seems ponderous at first, but matches the heaviness of Grace's grief. While allegations of Munchausen by Proxy (a real disorder where mothers sicken children to get attention) form the sensationalist backbone of the novel and Fischer's characterizations tend toward the schematic, agonizing truths about losing a child while still longing for "a life beyond the one you were living" come through clearly. The ending's reliance on 9/11, however, feels forced at best. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 11/20/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-7432-9331-0
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4165-3916-2
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