Monday, May 3, 2010

An awkward friendship but it doesn't spoil the story

Talk Before Sleep
Elizabeth Berg

Whew! This short book was packed with emotional ups and downs that left me in tears by the end! Talk Before Sleep is told from the perspective of Ann, previously a nurse before deciding to be a stay-at-home mom. Ann's best friend, Ruth, is in the final weeks of her life, dying from a number of cancers that metastasized from her breast, and Ruth is taking care of her to make sure she is as comfortable as possible. These unlikely best friends are joined by L.D., Helen, and Sarah - women who are extremely close to Ruth and Ann gets to know better and better. Talk Before Sleep focuses on issues Ruth faces as she prepares to die and flashbacks to events in Ruth and Ann's friendship that had a profound effect on Ann.

The blunt honesty of many of Ruth's thoughts really resonated with me. I have never had cancer and, God willing, I will not have to face that challenge but her her reflections on life and leaving life were contemplations many people have had. I am also a sucker for a good group of women friends who have strength in the face of adversity and know when a hot fudge Sunday needs to be a 5-scooper!

I found Ann and Ruth's friendship to be a little weird; Ruth was definitely the domineering friend and Ann did pretty much anything she said, even in the pre-cancer days. I thought Ruth belittled Ann often and Ann just rolled over and let her do it again and again. I understand being nice to friends who are having a hard time (and dying of cancer definitely is categorized as "hard") but I don't think that gives someone the right to lash out at friends. For me, it added an uncomfortable layer to the book.

Overall though, a quick read about a tough subject and will have me reaching for Elizabeth Berg again in the future.

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