The novel opens with Kate, a married mother of three who is afraid of flying, standing in the doorway of an airplane ready to skydive for the very first time. She is terrified but this is Rachel's dying wish for her: to jump out of an airplane. Each of the three women have letters delivered to them after their bright, vibrant friend Rachel dies of cancer unexpectedly (unexpected in that she didn't tell her three friends she was dying). The letters challenge the women. They ruffle their worlds, sending shockwaves into lives all around them.
Kate used to be a risk-taker, spontaneous and fun. Now she's subsumed her personality in her marriage and her children. She's content enough but when she fulfills Rachel's directive to jump out of the plane, she finds that content is not enough and that she needs to experience the wild joy and blazing happiness she used to feel.
Jo is all career woman with no roots. She doesn't rely on anyone and doesn't want anyone to rely on her outside of her job. And yet Rachel chooses to make Jo her young daughter's guardian, trusting that Jo has a great store of love and understanding inside herself. She offers Jo not only her daughter but also a sense of connection.
Sarah has spent years working as a nurse in some of the most challenging spots in the world but she is unable to let go of one man in her past. Rachel's final request of Sarah? Find Dr. Colin O'Rourke and either make it work or let it go and move on, able to live a full life.
The novel is quite clearly chronicles the growth and "coming of age" (despite their ages) of each of the three women through the insight of their late friend. It is also a novel of connection and friendship between women. Jo, Kate, and Sarah are very different people who have maintained a close friendship despite their differences and their different paths in life and it is fitting that together they must weather the trials set out for them by Rachel since it was Rachel who originally brought them together. Each of the characters is well drawn and unique. I did have one quibble about them though: Jo's caricature as a career woman who immediately makes a muddle of her life once she has Grace is a bit stereotypical and over the top. And while I suspect that many people would at least try to honor a dear, dear friend's final request of them, Rachel's uncanny knowledge of exactly how each of her friends needs to grow as a person and what action will make that happen is the tiniest bit deus ex machina. Overall though, this is a nice friendship and growth story. Fans of women's fiction will appreciate the connections between the women and enjoy the reminder to live life to the fullest each and every moment.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review.