Book Review: Holding on to Hurt by Charlotte Roth

HoldingOnToHurtAbout the Book

“I dread that every day I live, I’m one day further away from my life with Scottie”.

Irene Hurt has always dreamed of having a large family with her adoring husband Bruce. That dream is shattered when her doctor performs a hysterectomy after the birth of her only son, Scottie. Though heartbroken, Irene accepts the outcome and cherishes every moment with her son and her husband, until…the day she gets the call every mother dreads. Scottie is injured in a mass school shooting and is rushed to the ICU, where he’s put into a medically induced coma to wait out his fate. Devastated, Bruce pulls away and even tries to convince Irene to remove Scottie’s life support, to save his son from a life of lesser existence. But, Irene refuses to give up hope. On her journey through grief, denial, anger and finally, acceptance, Irene discovers more about the events of that tragic day, the boy who shot her son and then took his own life, and the husband she thought she knew and could trust. Will Scottie pull through and, once again, be the glue that keeps this family together? Or, will Irene accept that sometimes, the best thing a mother can do for her child is let go? Set in the darkest hours of winter in Seattle, Holding on to Hurt tells the gripping story of one mother’s fight to keep her son alive, no matter what she has to sacrifice.

Format: ebook Publisher:   Pages: 229
Publication: 20th May 2017 Genre: Contemporary    

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My Review

Irene Hurt seems to have the perfect life: a lovely home, a handsome husband (Bruce) and an adorable son (Scottie). It may seem a little cheesy but it certainly provides a telling counterpoint to what’s to come. (As a Brit, the only part of this perfect life I found hard to understand was having a shooting range in a barn in your garden, and a culture where it is acceptable – and commonplace – for private individuals to own handguns.)

When Scottie is caught up in a shooting on his school bus, Irene and Bruce’s perfect world comes crashing down around them. Escaping serious bullet wounds but suffering a severe head injury in an effort to escape the bullets, Scottie is placed in a medically induced coma. After several days of no change, his doctors are increasingly pessimistic about his prognosis. Not just about to what extent he will recover but whether he will recover at all.

Irene and Bruce each react very differently to Scottie’s injury and prognosis and the author chooses to have these fall along pretty much stereotypical gender lines. As Scottie’s nurse, Hannah explains:

‘It’s kinda like in a marriage. The guy calls the plumber when the toilet is broken; the woman takes care of the friend with a broken heart when she comes knocking on the door. Guys only like things that can be fixed.’

Irene and Bruce’s divergent views about Scottie’s future start to create deep fault-lines in their previously rock-solid marriage.

Irene’s instinct is not to leave her son’s side and to hope for a miracle; that he will awaken from his coma and be largely unaffected by his injury. She believes that if she clings to this hope strongly and steadfastly enough that everything will work out alright. For her, it is the intensity of her belief that is crucial. In pursuit of this, she spends every minute at his bedside, speaking to him, telling him stories, playing his favourite movies, surrounding him with family photo’s in the belief that somehow he can hear or sense the things she is doing.

Bruce’s reaction is outwardly logical and less emotional. He reads all the data about severe brain injury, listens to the doctors and is convinced that Scottie would not want to live with any degree of disability. He finds it even hard to look at his son surrounded by monitors and tubes.  It’s just not ‘his’ Scottie anymore.   However, it turns out that Bruce’s reaction is actually more complex. In fact, I would have liked to explore the story more from Bruce’s point of view because it is revealed later in the book there are things in his past that help to explain his reaction.

I won’t say any more about how things turn out for fear of spoilers but safe to say the emotional journey that Irene and Bruce go on is fraught with pain, hostility and unwelcome revelations. Things get said and done that may not easily be forgotten. I found myself empathising with both of them at different times and in different ways. However, this is also a story of hope, determination and undying love.

A couple of minor things in the story didn’t ring quite true for me. As respite from her vigil at Scottie’s bedside, Irene is persuaded to make a trip out with her sister-in-law, Red. I won’t say where they go or what they do while they’re there, but I just couldn’t imagine Irene doing that in the state she was in. A walk in the park or by the river, maybe, not that. This is only a minor niggle because otherwise the author managed to completely draw me into the story and convey at least an idea of the physical and emotional toll of being in a situation like this. Hopefully, it’s a situation few of us will ever have to face personally.

I received a review copy courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours in return for an honest review.

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In three words: Moving, emotional, compelling

Try something similar…Home by Kate Hughes (click here to read my review)

CharlotteRothAbout the Author

Charlotte says: Obviously, I love, love to write. Mostly about real people – how we feel, think, dream, and interact with each other. My characters are very relatable and I always fall in love with them as I follow them on their journey. I’m originally from Denmark but moved to the States ten years ago with my husband, a little chubby baby Alfred, and lots of hopes and dreams. We now live in Seattle and have added two more members to the family—the twincesses Emma and Olivia, and, oh well, Einstein, a tiny bearded dragon.  When I’m not “Mom,” I spend all my free time writing, re-writing, researching, reading, observing people, and making stories and characters in my head (and speak with them a little, too). My favorite spot is my local Starbucks, where my imagination runs wild – or works as a sponge soaking up whatever I encounter. The world is by far the greatest inspiration!

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