Monday, April 13, 2020

Review: You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer

When someone you love is given a terminal diagnosis, your whole world comes crashing down around you. The grief and despair and anger threaten to overwhelm. And in perhaps an ironic cruelty, you and the person living with the diagnosis have to do just that: live. How do you go about your daily business with this threat hanging over you? Can life still focus on life until there's no choice but to face inevitable death? What does that look like? In Alison Hammer's debut novel, You and Me and Us, she tackles all of these questions and more when Tommy Whistler, beloved partner, adored father, gentle psychiatrist, and the person who keeps their small family firmly together and ticking, is given a terminal lung cancer diagnosis.

Alexis Gold co-owns an advertising company. She has been scrambling to prove that motherhood and family won't impact her career since long before she started her own company. Luckily, her understanding and supportive partner Tommy, is an amazing dad and he has forever picked up the slack when Alexis is running late or misses another of their daughter's events. Unfortunately this has led to an estrangement between Alexis and CeCe, as the young teenager is certain that she cannot count on coming before her mother's work. CeCe and Tommy's bond though, is incredibly close and loving. And while Tommy may sometimes disapprove of Alexis' unchecked workaholic tendencies, he also understands them and knows that she still loves him and CeCe with all her heart. So when Tommy tells first Alexis and then CeCe that he's been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer they are devastated. Having watched his mother die of cancer after being diminished by treatments, he has chosen the hard option of not fighting for more time, knowing as he does that his outcome cannot, and will not, change. What he does want is quality of life over quantity and that means one last summer in Destin, Florida where he grew up and Alexis spent her summers as a child. It is a summer that will change Alexis and CeCe and reshape their family in ways they don't want to imagine but it will also provide them memories of a lifetime.

When you read this book, you will need more than a fistful of tissues as Hammer deftly weaves the sadness of an impending loss of such magnitude with the making of special memories and some spectacularly macabre humor from Tommy. She doesn't detail Tommy's physical decline as much as she tracks it in Alexis and CeCe's reactions to him, their startled recognition in the ways he's changed, and in the deeply felt way they acknowledge the unimaginable truth of a future coming at them faster than they want. Alexis and Tommy's past slips into their present, both their intangible feelings about things (Alexis' prejudice against marriage and Tommy's belief that he doesn't want his girls to remember him sick and dying as he remembers his mother) and in the physical person of Tommy's ex-wife, an actress filming a tv show in Destin. CeCe is well drawn as a young teenager alternately living her life and facing the death of her adored dad. She both continues to act normally and to push boundaries even as she seeks the moments she needs to grieve. Tommy himself is a thoughtful and understanding character and he is mainly seen through the eyes of Alexis and CeCe although one of the chapters' narration is from his point of view. The rest of the novel slips between Alexis and CeCe's first person narratives, allowing the reader see both of them cycle through every emotion they feel not only for the situation they are facing but also as they try to start to come together as mother and daughter. They are selfish and angry and hurt and they have years' worth of disappointments to overcome but at heart, they not only come together through their shared love of Tommy, but also through their love for each other. Mistakes are made and hearts are certainly broken over the course of this novel but priorities shift and love shines through in this warm, tear-jerking story of loss and love, the life we live, and the people who connect us forever.

For more information about Alison Hammer and the book, check our her author site, follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and publisher William Morrow for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. I highly enjoyed this one myself. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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