Jodi Picoult is my all-time favorite author. She has the ability to beautifully craft her characters in a way that makes you feel like you're known them all of your life. I haven't found a Jodi Picoult book that I haven't loved, and this book is no different.
As a young child, Paige O'Toole's mother abandoned her and her father. Now, Paige finds herself running away from her own life and wonders if she has more in common with her mother than she thought. After high school graduation, Paige runs away from her past in Chicago and starts a new life in Massachusetts. She finds a job at a diner and wins the hearts of everyone she meets with beautiful portraits that she draws, perfectly displaying each person's personality and passion.
While working at the diner Paige meets Nicholas Prescott, a beautiful and brilliant Harvard med student with a demanding presence. It was all over the day that Nicholas' attention was returned to Paige. Within days, Nicholas had asked Paige to marry him and the whirlwind had begun. But Nicholas' parents weren't as impressed with Paige as Nicholas was. They did not approve of their marriage and would not support them in their decision. Nicholas, standing up for his soon to be wife decided that they did not need their approval or support, and they severed ties with his parents and would start their life together, just the two of them.
Seven years later, Paige has supported Nicholas' medical school and internship at the hospital, putting off her own dream of going to an art school. As Nicholas is making his way up the ranks in the hospital and finding himself busier than ever, Paige finds that she is pregnant. This is terrifying to Paige who never learned how to be a good mom from her own mother. How is she supposed to take care of a child when her own past is filled with heartbreak. When baby Max comes, Paige finds herself being the sole parent. Nicholas is so busy at work and tired when he gets home, that all he wants is his dinner to be made, the house to be clean, and for Max to be quiet. When Paige is unable to be the perfect parent that her husband expects of her, she feels like a failure and does the only thing that she knows. She runs away. But instead of running away from her past, this time she runs towards it. Paige finds herself back in Chicago seeing her father for the first time in seven years and asking questions about her mother. Working with a detective, she finds her mother in North Carolina on a ranch and goes to meet the person that abandoned her all those years ago.
Meanwhile, Nicholas is forced to take care of Max on his own. He begins to see how difficult of a job this really is. With no other choice and his standing in the hospital in the balance, Nicholas is forced to reach out to his parents for help, who happily allow their prodigal son to return into their lives.
Max has changed everyone's lives. Paige has stopped running away from her past and is starting to find the answers she needs to move on and admit her own faults and mistakes. Nicholas begins to see how difficult raising a child can really be, but bonds with Max in a way that he never would have allowed himself before Paige's departure. They both are now able to see what is truly important in their lives, so what are they going to do about it?
I give this book a solid five stars. I found myself reading into the night and holding back tears while reading in the airplane. This was really a great book about how life changes who you are and the relationships that you have. It really puts your own life into perspective and makes you appreciate what you have.