Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography
How to Walk Away: A Novel
by Katherine Center
What Amazon Says
From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best—a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.
Given my experience with my late husband Bill, who was partially paralyzed by two strokes, I don’t think this book accurately portrays paralysis. Granted, in the hospital, the author shows Margaret learning to use a transfer board to move from her bed to her wheelchair, and she touches on how Margaret learns to perform certain tasks through physical and occupational therapy. But once Margaret is discharged from the hospital, other than a ramp being built to allow her easy access to her parents’ house, no mention is made of grab bars or other equipment she needs to help her accomplish daily living tasks.
Some authors might think this sort of thing could be left to the reader’s imagination. But some readers who are unfamiliar with paralysis might think it’s easy for people with no use of their legs to manage. However, as Margaret points out in the epilog, losing the use of her legs was the hardest thing for her. This could have been shown earlier in the book.
That having been said, I was hooked from the first page. I liked how the author drew me into Margaret’s story by telling it from her first-person point of view. I loved Ian and couldn’t help wondering what would have happened had Bill worked with a physical therapist like him soon after transferring to the nursing home to recuperate from his first stroke. If Bill were still alive and reading this, he could have identified with Margaret’s feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration during her recovery. If you like a sweet love story with a feel-good ending and no explicit descriptions of sex, you don’t want to walk away from this book.
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Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.
Independently published with the help of DLD Books.
Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.
After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.
Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.
Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?