October 2, 2012
By: Kayt DeMerchant
Several years ago, I read an interview with author Jodi Picoult in which the interviewer asks her what drives her to keep writing. Picoult answered, “Fear. Superstition. The feeling that if I write about it I won't have to live it.” This thought stuck with me over the years and I would sometimes wonder if I read the type of books I do for the same reason: fear and superstition.
Perhaps I am a fan of Picoult’s because she writes about the very things that mothers, in particular, fear. This thought circled around again when I picked up Lee Woodruff’s debut work of fiction, Those We Love Most. Woodruff’s writing echoes Picoult in its charm and grace. Even when reading a difficult scene, you cannot help but appreciate the beauty of the words and pause over the phrases that resonate. Woodruff, however, knows tragedy first hand. She has lived it and perhaps it makes her characters that much more real, the scenes that much more striking.
Woodruff’s husband, Bob, a reporter, was severely injured while working in Iraq. Even though he was initially given little hope, he did survive and he and Lee went on to co-author In an Instant and founded the Bob Woodruff Foundation to assist wounded service members and their families. Lee also authored the essay collection Perfectly Imperfect. Woodruff uses her experience to fuel the stories of the characters in Those We Love Most. This story is about many things: motherhood, mistakes, marriages, families but, most of all, resilience - how we as humans are programmed to rebuild after devastation.
Those We Love Most is a multi-generational story. The story begins with every parent’s nightmare - one horrific moment where a nine year old boy is struck by a teenage neighbor’s vehicle and killed. The mother, Maura Corrigan, must find a way to dig out from underneath the heavy blankets of grief and the equally heavy weight of guilt. Maura’s husband, Pete, finds it all too easy to escape his pain with frequent visits to the local bar. The insight into marriage through Woodruff’s words will likely have anyone who has ever been married nodding their head, shedding a tear or two and squeezing the hand of those we often take for granted. Pete and Maura’s marriage, which was not on steady ground to begin with, is tested, strained and stretched throughout the story.
Meanwhile, Maura’s parents, Roger and Margaret, deal with the multi layers of love and challenges within their own marriage. And, the young man whom hit the Corrigan boy must find a way to move forward after an accident that will forever shape his life.
As we read about these characters confronting their own mistakes, righting their course and fighting to maintain their vital relationships, we are slapped in the face with how everything can change in a moment and that when loss happens, it is those we love most that will be our foundation on which to rebuild.