Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Best of Us

The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard
Bloomsbury USA: 9/5/17
eBook review copy; 448 pages
ISBN-13: 9781635570342

"Not until we learned of his illness, and we walked the path of that terrible struggle together, did I understand what it meant to be a couple - to be a true partner and to have one. I only learned the full meaning of marriage as mine was drawing to a close. I discovered what love was as mine departed the world."

The Best of Us by Joyce Maynard is a highly recommended memoir of the author finding true love in her late fifties and then losing her beloved.

In her late fifties and after two decades of being single, Maynard begins this honest memoir stating that she was done with love and marriage. Then she met Jim on Match(dot)com and quickly changed her mind. The first part of her account is a detailed, open examination of her life and failings. She is quite open with her poor life choices and the fall-out from some of those decisions. Jim accepted her as she was and gave her the support she didn't even realize she needed. After they married it seemed that she finally had the love and a true partner for the rest of her life.

Then, just after their first anniversary, Jim was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and their dreams changed. For the next nineteen months they battled his illness together, including frequent hospital visits,  surgeries, and medication. Even as the narrative becomes increasingly painful and difficult to read, it also moves closer to acceptance of the inevitable heart-break end. Maynard celebrates her once-in-a-lifetime love and the heart-wrenching experience of losing him.

This is certainly a worth-while, well-written memoir. Maynard is extremely open and honest with her life and the choices and mistakes she has made. Some of these choices were rather impulsive and made without much forethought or consideration of the outcome or wisdom of her actions. The fact that she has openly written about some of these events indicts that she chose to do so despite the fact that they may reflect on how individual readers react to her. (It should be noted that Jim and Joyce were in a much better financial situation than many who face similar trials.)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Bloomsbury USA.

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