Author: Caroline Leavitt
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Book Description: New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt writes novels that expertly explore the struggles and conflicts that people face in their search for happiness. For the characters in With or Without You, it seems at first that such happiness can come only at someone else’s expense. Stella is a nurse who has long suppressed her own needs and desires to nurture the dreams of her partner, Simon, the bass player for a rock band that has started to lose its edge. But when Stella gets unexpectedly ill and falls into a coma just as Simon is preparing to fly with his band to Los Angeles for a gig that could revive his career, Simon must learn the meaning of sacrifice, while Stella’s best friend, Libby, a doctor who treats Stella, must also make a difficult choice as the coma wears on.
When Stella at last awakes from her two-month sleep, she emerges into a striking new reality where Simon and Libby have formed an intense bond, and where she discovers that she has acquired a startling artistic talent of her own: the ability to draw portraits of people in which she captures their innermost feelings and desires. Stella’s whole identity, but also her role in her relationships, has been scrambled, and she has the chance to form a new life, one she hadn’t even realized she wanted.
A story of love, loyalty, loss, and resilience, With or Without You is a page-turner that asks the question, What do we owe the other people in our lives, and when does the cost become too great?
Rating: 4.25 Stars
Review: Simon and Stella have been together for a decade now. While their is a lot of love, there is a underlying complexity in their lives. When an incident leaves Stella in a coma, it will leave Simon, and her best friend trying to cope with whatever the outcome might be.
This is a very introspective novel told from three perspectives, Stella, Simon and Libby. After Stella wakes from a two month long coma, things have vastly changed and everything is just off for her. Simon, who put his resurgent music career on hold to stay and care for Stella. Lastly you meet Libby, who is Stella’s doctor and best friend.
I was personally very emotional when I read this story. It has a lot of highs and lows. At times, I would get mad at the direction Leavitt was taking this story. However the author seemed to make this end just exactly as it was supposed to be, it was so natural.
Personally, when an author can evoke that much feeling, good or bad, to me that is a sign of an excellent book. This is definitely 100% literary fiction, so feel free to skip, if that is not your wheelhouse, but for those who love it, you will not be disappointed.
Thank you NetGalley and Algonquin for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.