If Not for This

Pete Fromm. Red Hen (CDC, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-59709-538-9
Fromm’s latest novel (after As Cool As I Am) is a remarkable depiction of the effects of multiple sclerosis on a young woman and her husband. Maddy and Dalt meet while working for white-water rafting companies in Wyoming, and fall headlong in love. Eventually, they get married, on a riverbank, and embark on a life together that seems almost charmed: “We’ve not just tied our two lives together, we’ve cast off the rest of the world.” The two start their own rafting company, which thrives, and all seems golden. But then Maddy gets an unexplained dizzy spell, and, soon thereafter, they think she has mono—“mono that doesn’t seem to be mono.” Then Maddy, once a vigorous outdoorswoman, is diagnosed with MS, and the heart of the book depicts Maddy and Dalt’s life with MS as an unwelcome third party. The descriptions of Maddy’s illness—the exhaustion, the fear, and the day-to-day work that a degenerative disease occasions—are closely observed and heartbreakingly realistic. Maddy and Dalt’s story feels true from the first page to the last. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/30/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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