Addie is three years old, and desperately needs a new liver. Her mother, Camille, is used to dealing with the relatives of organ donors through her work at the hospital, but this is something altogether different. Caught in the nightmare of a critically ill child, Camille’s emotions begin to splinter, her marriage is tested to the point of fracture, and in her desperation to save Addie she is forced to question where the boundaries of her own morality lie.
One of the only distractions for Camille is the opportunity to curate a retrospective of her father’s sculptures. But as she compiles the notes for this exhibition, she is also drawn back into the lives of her parents, who both died when Camille was young. Her mother Alix had been one of the first female heart surgeons in Australia, but the details of her death have always been indistinct to Camille. As she learns more about her mother and father’s relationship, Addie’s condition continues to worsen, and the family begin a heart-wrenching wait to see if a donor will be found in time.
I was a big fan of Natasha’s first book What is Left Over, After, which won the TAG Hungerford prize, and I have been looking forward to reading If I Should Lose You for quite some time. In this poignant story, one person’s death might offer the chance of life for another. With tremendous emotional acuity, Natasha explores the complex contradictions of what this means in a world that is at once wretched, beautiful, agonising and sublime. The narrative deals with the many responses to loss, and the meanings we ascribe to our bodies, which both represent and hinder the essence of us. It is a book that draws you in on so many levels, and will leave you questioning, What if the unthinkable happened to our family? How would I react, and who might I become?
You can find out more about Natasha’s writing at www.natashalester.com.au
GIVEAWAY!: I have a copy of If I Should Lose You to give away to an Australian reader when I return from my holiday at the end of September. Just leave a comment on this review on my website for a chance to win!