About the Book:
New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt writes novels that expertly explore the struggles and conflicts that people face in their search for happiness. For the characters in With or Without You, it seems at first that such happiness can come only at someone else’s expense. Stella is a nurse who has long suppressed her own needs and desires to nurture the dreams of her partner, Simon, the bass player for a rock band that has started to lose its edge. But when Stella gets unexpectedly ill and falls into a coma just as Simon is preparing to fly with his band to Los Angeles for a gig that could revive his career, Simon must learn the meaning of sacrifice, while Stella’s best friend, Libby, a doctor who treats Stella, must also make a difficult choice as the coma wears on.
When Stella at last awakes from her two-month sleep, she emerges into a striking new reality where Simon and Libby have formed an intense bond, and where she discovers that she has acquired a startling artistic talent of her own: the ability to draw portraits of people in which she captures their innermost feelings and desires. Stella’s whole identity, but also her role in her relationships, has been scrambled, and she has the chance to form a new life, one she hadn’t even realized she wanted.
A story of love, loyalty, loss, and resilience, With or Without You is a page-turner that asks the question, What do we owe the other people in our lives, and when does the cost become too great?
I loved this audiobook so much that I spent every spare minute listening to Julia Whelan’s incomparable narration! The story is totally compelling and I want to read Caroline Leavitt’s other books now.
“There were lots of doors in life, lots of moments.”
At first glance the story of Stella, a talented nurse who makes a miraculous recover from a coma, this book is so much more. Stella and her boyfriend Simon have stagnated in their relationship, with neither one of them being completely fulfilled. They can’t seem to get back to the crazy in love feeling they once had. Simon is a rock musician and feels held back by his life with Stella. He seeks fame and fortune and adulation. Stella is deeply in love with Simon but is having second thoughts about his ability to commit to a caring relationship with her.
This is a book abut complex relationships where nothing is simple or expected. All of the main characters, from Simon to Stella to her best friend Libby, have flaws as well as very redeeming qualities. The author makes no judgments and presents a very nuanced picture of the nature of adult relationships, whether with your parents, your friends or your significant other.
A tragic turn of events lands Stella in a coma near the beginning of the story. Simon becomes the picture of devotion and loyalty, never leaving Stella’s side. Her best friend Libby is a brilliant but rigid doctor who clashes with Simon. The author provides rich backstories for each, and while Stella is the central point of view, Simon and Libby are integral characters in this emotional and complex story.
Stella and Simon’s relationship becomes even more complicated when she awakens from the coma a very changed person. She has new, heightened abilities, which lead her to clash with those who care about her. I must mention that Julia Whelan’s narration brought the author’s words to life for me and if you can grab this audiobook, do it.
This is a wonderfully adult portrayal of growth, love, loyalty and forgiveness. ‘With or Without You’ is without a doubt one of my favorite books of 2020.
“Any moment, something amazing can happen.”