Reviewed by Susan Lobban
One minute Rachel is celebrating her husband’s job promotion, the next she is dead.
Life must go on.
While Max and daughter Ellie come to terms with being a family of two, Rachel is able to watch on from the afterlife. A cruel twist of fate, however, means that she can only gain short glimpses, which she has no control over.
Max and Ellie are helping each other through the five stages of grief, but Rachel is alone while dealing with the same emotions. She is always one step behind her loved ones and life is moving a lot faster than she hoped in her absence.
Being dead is not the end of Rachel’s problems – it is just the beginning.
It is with much trepidation that I started this book, as I usually shy away from books dealing with mothers dying. However, what could have been a maudlin and hard to read story was actually poignant and very touching. I did cry (which is a rarity for me), as seven year old Ellie yearned for her mother, but Max’s heartfelt reassurances to his daughter were just right and managed to ease Rachel’s worries about leaving her family too soon.
Rachel is dead right from the book’s opening. From there on, rather than dwell on the afterlife, we are present only when the clouds lift, which allow us to see how life is progressing without her.
At first, Max and Rachel seem to be in a tandem of emotions across the invisible divide, but then Max moves onto the next stage of grief a lot quicker than Rachel expected. Thereafter, Rachel is desperate to not lose the connection with her loved ones, but struggles to keep up – especially when the years since her death seems to go in a blink of an eye, for her at least. I thought the way the story was told was very clever in that I could see vivid pictures of Max and Ellie in my mind. As such, I was compelled to read on when the clouds descended right at a crucial part.
Hannah Beckerman has managed to tackle a difficult subject with a tenderness that makes the reader feel encouraged and content that Max and Ellie will be just fine. This book taps into the hope that death is not the end and you are left contemplating that thought long after the last page.