Early Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Early Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

What happens when the center of your universe dies?

Scientists  determine the location of black holes by watching the behavior of the  matter that surround them. They’re impossible to see on their own as  they suck down all light or any probes that might trace their  perimeters.

Billy  is at the center of Sarah Mayberry’s Within Reach, her death the black hole. She is the  impetus for the plot, the invisible force that sets events in motion,  but the book isn’t about her. Instead, Within Reach chronicles the lives  of those most affected by her absence: her husband Michael, her  children Eva and Charlie, and her best friend Angie.

Prior  to Billy’s death Angie and Michael were never particularly close. They  related to each other through Billy rather than any special personal  connection. In the wake of her death they pull together, sharing the  devastation of losing the most important person in either of their  worlds.

That’s why when Michael needs a kickstart, Angie is the one to  give it to him.

You  think this half life is doing any of you any good? When was the last  time you left the house to do anything other than drop Eva at school or  go to the supermarket? When was the last time you did something because  you wanted to rather than because you had to?

Michael  returns to work part-time and slowly begins to put his life together.  Angie is integral to this process, shouldering more of the burden so  Michael can sort himself out. She moves her jewelry making business into  the studio in Michael’s back yard in order to stay close by. She picks  Eva up from school every afternoon so Michael can go to work, makes  dinner most days, and stays to help put the kids to bed at night. This  new level of involvement fosters an unavoidable intimacy which slowly  begins to change their relationship.

I don’t want to be in this position. I don’t want to be single. I definitely don’t want to even think about replacing Billie.

I  was impressed by the communication between the two characters.

They are  incredibly brave, sharing every step of the grieving process with each  other. Even when they begin to notice an attraction to each other they  discuss the issue together, something that requires a monumental amount  of honesty and vulnerability. They care enough about each other to push  past the instinct to remain silent and keep things private.

They lean on each other. They need to, because at every step in reclaiming their lives, guilt dogs them.

Mayberry’s  patient timeline never just dismisses the hurdles to be overcome,  instead showing how the difficulties draw Angie and Michael ever closer  together. Both the relationship and Within Reach are the richer for this  realistic pace.

Mayberry  also avoids the pitfall of comparing Michael’s relationships.

Many  books dismiss the first love in order to validate the second  relationship. Michael and Billie’s  relationship isn’t judged or discounted because it doesn’t need to be. Michael the widower is a  different man than Michael the married guy was. He is able to love two  different women in two different yet equal ways.

In  fact, if anything, Michael is a bit too reasonable. He lashes out from  time to time but he always apologizes. Even angry, his innate fairness  asserts itself before long.

And  there’s the crux of it, you selfish bastard. You want more, but you’ve  got nothing to offer, and she knows it. And yet you still want it  anyway.

Grief  can make the kindest people harsh, but I suppose it would be difficult  to credit a relationship started when the heroine was treated badly.  Realistic or not, Michael never strays into meanness, and the way he makes his children a priority is definitely a point in his favor.

The  children’s welfare is always foremost in Michael and Angie’s minds.

They worry about how the changes in their relationship will affect the  kids and focus on maintaining a sense of normalcy for them. They aren’t  merely plot moppets, cute and handy to move the action along. They have  real personalities, real needs that are respected by both Michael and  Angie.

Mayberry  did an excellent job painting three-dimensional people, both  children and adults, struggling to find a new way of life. I wish the  Happily Ever After had been as thoroughly explored as the grieving  process (but I may just want a longer book).

In any case, Mayberry has  definitely earned a place on my future to-read list. I guess I’ll be working my way through someone’s backlist.

Note: This book is listed as an August 7, 2012 release, but is available now.

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Disclosure: Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.

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