I faced the possibility of becoming a widow before I was 25. My husband worked a dangerous job, didn’t take very good care of his health, and at the age of 26 he had 3 heart attacks. I will never forget that phone call, telling me that there was an emergency and that I should head to the hospital.Recently I’ve seen proof of what happens when a husband passes and the wife’s life was so intricately wound with his that she doesn’t know how or where to go on from there. For that reason, Picture This by Jacqueline Sheehan really resounded with me. But there’s more! Picture This is a tale of life after becoming a widow including new love, and it’s very well-written with an interesting narration scheme including 2 very creative narrators.
When my husband was ill, and even before that when he was working a dangerous job, I knew that there may come a point when he didn’t come home. There was a possibility that I would be raising our son on my own. It wasn’t a topic I thought of then, more like a thought that hovered in the back of my mind. More recently I’ve seen the toll that surviving a spouse can have on a woman, and it reminds me to be thankful that my husband is still here – not that I needed the reminder! But it made me think more about what life would have been as a widow. Reading Picture This gave me a shimmer of hope that there might be another life out there if my husband does pass before me. I know that sounds odd to be hopeful, but parts of his heart will never work again – it scares me daily, and he doesn’t have a dangerous job anymore. So knowing that I might be able to go on like Rocky Pellegrino does eases the worry somewhat.
It’s been over a year since Rocky’s husband Bob passed suddenly, and she has been “talking” to another man – her archery instructor. The fact that she feels anything even like a potential love makes it seem not that she didn’t love and grieve her husband, but that there is a way to continue through life – that the heart does not stop beating with the loss of a spouse. Rocky’s very cautious with her relationship, quick to freak out about it (I can totally relate to that), and Ms. Sheehan describes her inner turmoil with the possibility of a new love interest very well. I was as conflicted about it as Rocky was, it was so clearly described. But perhaps my favorite part was the way that the story was not told from a single narrator.
In many books it can be difficult to understand the motivations of some of the characters or to fully comprehend the complex emotions of different sides of the story because it is told from the point of view of a single person. Picture This was written very well and tackled this difficulty by allowing several characters to tell the story – chapters are began with the name of the character who will be talking to us, and this allows us to see into what the real mystery is better than had we waited for Rocky herself to figure it all out. I like the way it’s written, and I think it may be my favorite style. I haven’t read many books narrated this way, but I do enjoy the ones I have read.
Perhaps my favorite narrator was Cooper, the black Lab that Rocky rescued who helped to pull her from the private hell of her grief into a somewhat normal life. He also interacts with other characters who Rocky isn’t present, so we see more of the back story through him. But the best part is when Cooper explains to us how he protects his people and what they each mean to him. That said, I do also like hearing the story told from the perspective of the house, because it’s completely different. I love thinking that a house needs someone to love it and can feel the emotions of the residents.
Picture This has a well-played mystery, which I would have further described to you, but I was afraid of spoiling the story. I always worry about how much of the story should be told in a review – I assume that you must want to read it for yourself, so you won’t want to hear me give away the juicy details. But there is much that I can share about this novel, much that I loved about it. Combined with the interesting writing and narration, the stories of the dog and the house, and the life that Rocky is able to pursue after her husband passes, Picture This by Jacqueline Sheehan is definitely a story that will stick with me.
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Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher to facilitate my review. My opinions are honest and my own.
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