WHY: “This luminous debut is beautifully written and will stay with readers long after the final page.
“Lila Savage’s startling, tender novel follows Ella, a young caregiver hired to help a woman of rapidly diminishing mental capability, and the relationship Ella develops with her and her husband.
“At the novel’s start, Ella is on the cusp of 30 and living in Minneapolis with her girlfriend, Alix, whom she loves deeply and uncomplicatedly. After dropping out of graduate school, Ella makes a modest living as a caregiver, though she harbors vague artistic inclinations. Her newest client is Jill, who, at 60, is younger than her usual clientele; her mental state has deteriorated ever since she was in a car accident over a decade ago. Unable to hold coherent conversations or wash herself, Jill has been taken care of by her husband, Bryn, a retired carpenter.
“Initially hired to provide Bryn with a reprieve, Ella finds herself gradually immersed in Bryn and Jill’s lives, and soon her role as Jill’s companion evolves into something more intimate and complex. Over the next year, Jill’s condition worsens and Bryn becomes more visibly strained even as the force of his love for Jill stays steady, and what Ella witnesses between the two of them challenges her ideas of love, spirituality, and empathy.” –PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a starred and boxed review
. . . . .
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK:
Later, looking back, Ella would be hard pressed to remember any details that had set this interview apart. It was sad, but then it was always sad, or Ella wouldn’t be needed. She had been working as a companion for elderly people for six years, and somewhere along the way, sadness had lost its power to shock Ella the way it once had. It still reached her, but it was like recognizing a flavor, like eating a jelly bean without looking first to see what color it was. Oh this, she might think, I know this taste. This is incremental loss. This is trying to remember. This is regret. This is forgetting, forgotten, gone. This flavor is grief.