Thursday, November 17, 2022

Book Review: "We All Want Impossible Things" by Catherine Newman

Catherine Newman's first novel for adults is a tremendously moving story about lifelong friendship, love, and saying goodbye. It's really beautiful!

Ash and Edi have been friends since childhood. They’ve shared everything together—high school prom, weddings, pregnancies, all of their hopes and fears. When Edi’s battle with ovarian cancer nears its end and her doctors recommend she be moved to hospice, the only option is for her to go to a hospice near Ash’s home in Western Massachusetts.

Ash spends hours and hours every day with Edi, reminiscing, crying, eating, drinking, and getting to know the staff and other residents of the hospice, many of whom, like Edi, wind up living longer than their doctors predicted, although they are slowly moving toward their end.

“Edi’s memory is like the backup hard drive for mine, and I have that same crashing, crushing feeling you have when the beach ball on your computer starts spinning. I have the feeling you’d have if there were a vault with all your jewels in it, everything precious, only the person with the combination to the lock was hanging on to a penthouse ledge by a fingertip.”

At the same time, Ash is dealing with her own midlife crisis. She still pines for her husband despite their separation, but that isn’t stopping her from sleeping with several different men. As she comes to terms with her best friend’s mortality, she’s also concerned about her daughters and what will happen to Edi’s husband and young son.

This is definitely an emotional book, but it wasn’t actually as overwhelmingly sad as I thought it would be. There are surprising flashes of humor and levity throughout. And as someone who lost a best friend last year, the book captured many of my feelings very accurately.

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