I don’t know what it is about this story that affected me so deeply but I was one hot mess by the end of it. I did not allow myself to eat, drink or sleep until I finished it and regained some sort of control over my emotions. This is the story of one man’s attempt to correct a terrible mistake that he made in his past. And this is the story of the two people that suffered the most because of his mistake.
Christian and Elizabeth were a devoted couple in college with grand plans for their future, but they were nothing alike. While Elizabeth was studying to become a family lawyer with a focus on children’s rights, Christian dreamed of joining his father’s law firm and achieving the kind of success that is measured by the number of zeros after the dollar sign. Two very different people who challenged each other, made each other question what they believed in and who made each other better people. However, their views ultimately differed at the most important point in their relationship – should they keep the baby that Elizabeth was carrying? Elizabeth never even considered giving the baby up, she believed that they could work it out as long as they loved each other. Christian did not agree – he saw the baby as a complication that would jeopardize everything he had planned for his future. An ugly ultimatum later and their lives change irrevocably.
Five years of guilt, regret and self-hatred have now made Christian a different person. He deeply regrets his actions and the way he treated Elizabeth but the moment she stepped out of his life she never returned. He never had the courage to make it right when he could have and then he no longer knew where she lived.
One day, in a supermarket, Christian runs into a little girls who appears “familiar” to him from the moment he locks eyes with her. He is mesmerized by her and she appears to be just as unexplainably drawn to him as he is to her. She smiles at him and he immediately recognises her as his child. He then becomes determined to win his family back and fill the agonizing hole in his heart. He muscles his way back into their lives and discovers that he not only desperately wants to be a father to Lizzie, but he also never stopped loving her mother.
At this point this book could have become a predictable version of the events where mummy and daddy meet again after five years of separation, all is immediately forgotten, they never stopped loving each other and they all immediately become one happy little family. But this book is much more real than that. There is no such happy reunion. The pain and sadness caused by what Christian did to Elizabeth and his own self-flagellation make this story as raw and as real as it could possibly be. Elizabeth pain is almost tangible. Five years of hardship and pain have made her a broken young woman who is now scared to love or accept love in return. She has made Lizzie the centre of her life, she is a devoted and loving mother to her daughter and she is willing to do anything to shelter her from the heartbreak of losing someone you love. Christian storms into their life unannounced and unwelcome. She questions his motives but, above all, she questions his ability to never abandon his daughter again. What follows is a truly heart-wrenching and super-emotional story of forgiveness, redemption and second chances.
These characters dig themselves so deeply into your heart that you are feeling everything they are feeling. Such overwhelming sadness, such a great story, such an insight into the human condition. This story touched me in such a way that I managed to immerse myself into these characters completely. I really REALLY wanted to hate Christian, I wanted to make him the ‘bad guy’ but he broke his own heart just as much as he broke Elizabeth’s. Ultimately, you can’t help but admire a man who owns up to his mistakes and then does everything humanly possible to make it right.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an emotional chip. You might need to service it afterwards though.