Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson


Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief.

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady's prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her?

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days.

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn't just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she's capable of ever giving again.

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there's more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there's more to life than death.

This is a heart-wrenchingly, beautiful story of one woman wading her way through the tragic loss of her husband and the subsequent grief that follows. The theme of the story is one I've read before: Widow loses husband, is now a single mother, finds new love that helps her through. However, what really made the story for me is the author's approach. She outlines which stage of grief, Liz, the main character/narrator is in, and follows each in order. The emotions are so strong I I felt each and every one of them. I FELT like this was MY loss. MY heart was shattered right along with Liz. I worked through the grief with Liz. 

Well, obviously Liz is the one who loses her husband, Grady. He tragically dies of cancer after a hard fight, leaving behind Liz and their four young children. Understandably, she is a wreck. It is hard for her to go on. She is a stay at home mother and the every day things that were so simple, like getting get children to school on time, before Grady died is now monumentally difficult. She meets her new neighbor, Ben, on an especially difficult day, and at first finds him annoying. No reason, she's just moody, so she doesn't like him.  

Ben knows the situation and slowly begins to help Liz. As she starts to accept his help, they forge a strong friendship and he becomes someone she trusts and relies on. Then feelings develop. Of course they are hard for Liz to accept. She is still mourning the loss of Grady and still loves him very much. And Ben...SIGH... He is so gentle and patient with her. He doesn't push, doesn't try to take Grady's place. He just wants her to make room for him. He makes this speech to her  Oh my heart! I think it is one of the most beautiful speeches and now my favorite out of all the books I've read!

There is so much I want to tell about this story, but I can't. No, I WON'T. This brilliantly written story HAS to be experienced first hand. The Five Stages of Falling in Love is the perfect example of what I'm looking for in books. Not just a story, but an experience. This book hit me on a level that only my most cherished stories have. It broke my heart and put the jagged pieces back together again. I was left with a bittersweet joy for the characters.

I was born and raised in Nebraska, but spent my college years traveling the world. I fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka. But I came back home to marry my high school sweetheart and now I spend my days raising our growing family. In those few spare moments I have, I am either reading or writing Young Adult Fiction, because I am obsessed with it.

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