Saturday, October 02, 2010
Synopsis: Jenna Fox has been in a coma for 18 months. When she awakens, she finds that her memory has been severely affected. As she regains pieces of her past and begins to build a new present, she wonders if she is, or ever was, the same Jenna whom her parents have worked so hard to save.
I admit that because the book comes from Jenna's perspective, it was difficult at the beginning to understand what is going on, but that is the point, and it was executed masterfully. This book does such a good job of capturing Jenna's perspective, her fear, her anger, her yearning, her uncertainty, her questions, that as a reader you feel almost as if you are experiencing it too. And though I felt at times as if I had a better idea of what was happening to Jenna than she did, I was pleasantly surprised that even my assumptions were not all correct. I actually expected it to be predictable in certain respects, but was still surprised by the unexpected. The very fact that I was constantly changing my mind about what exactly was going on is enough to show that in many respects, I felt just as lost and confused as Jenna did.
I am not going to tell you much about the plot because, well, I think the less you know going into reading it, the better. Sufficeth to say that it is a science-fiction tale set in a not too distant future. The science and the future I found to be very believable, and some of the issues at stake are issues that the scientific and medical community are already facing. What are the limits of ethical practice in medicine? Because we can do something, should we do it? The ethical questions of this book are completely enthralling, and what was so amazing about it was that she presents both points of view so well that you feel for and understand both. It raises the complexities of ethical issues through the emotionally charged tales of the characters - characters whom I grew to love and ache for.
The more pressing questions for me, however, were questions relating to what it is that makes us human in the first place and what it means to love completely. And many of these questions come directly from Jenna herself. I can't help but wonder how many choices we each make when we think and convince ourselves we are acting out of love, yet we lose the perspective to truly understand the ones we love and to act in their interest more than our own.
The best review I've read yet is from my good friend Liesl, which can be found on goodreads.
A quote of hers that I would use to sum up:
"The hardest part of love, in life or death, is letting go."
And, a taste of the book itself (possibly because it resonated with me more than most):
"A bit for someone here.
A bit there.
And sometimes they don't add up to anything whole.
But you are so busy dancing.
You don't have time to notice.
Or are afraid to notice.
And then one day you have to look.
And it's true.
All of your pieces fill up other people's holes.
But they don't fill