March 27, 2021

A Million Reasons Why

A Million Reasons Why

by Jessica Strawser

Published March 23, 2021
by St. Martin’s Press

Rating: Chelsey 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Olivia 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

ABOUT A MILLION REASONS WHY

Caroline is a mother to three young kids, wife to an empathetic and supportive husband, and a successful career woman.  When her husband Walt gifts the entire family DNA Ancestry kits for Christmas, she’s on board thinking it could be fun to learn a bit about their history.  What she didn’t expect was a message from an alleged half sister, suggesting that her doting and wonderful father wasn’t exactly the husband and family man she had believed him to be.

Sela is a woman in her mid-thirties suffering from kidney failure.  When she was pregnant with Brody, her kidneys started to fail and led to Brody being born prematurely and Sela’s kidneys failing at a rapid rate.  Determined to live past Brody’s second birthday, Sela decides to do a DNA Ancestry test and see if there’s any extended family with whom she can connect to identify a possible donor.  Never knowing her father, she knew it was a possibility.  When a match for a half sister pops up, Sela knows she needs to reach out and make “the big ask.” 

But asking a stranger is one thing, asking a family another.  But what position does it put her in to ask a stranger that is family? 

As Sela struggles to come to terms with needing to ask for the biggest favor / sacrifice from a woman with whom she’s trying to develop a relationship, Caroline is grappling her own problems.  Her mother and father are in denial about Sela and have decided to pretend she doesn’t exist, leaving Caroline to deal with the consequences of her father’s affair on her own. 

Dredging up the past ends up being a dangerous game for them all.  Not only are relationships at risk, but even Sela’s life hangs in the balance.

CHELSEY’S THOUGHTS ON A MILLION REASONS WHY:

I always love a good family drama and I’m generally drawn to medical dramas, so when I read the synopsis for A Million Reasons Why and saw that it had BOTH of these elements, I knew it was sure to be a hit for me!!  And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Told from Sela’s and Caroline’s viewpoints, it was easy to get completely absorbed in Caroline’s family drama and Sela’s plight to find a donor.  I thought Strawser did an incredible job with the character development and I could really feel Sela’s inner turmoil over having to not only broach her illness with her newly found sibling, but also ask her to be tested as a donor.  I could also empathize with Caroline who was struggling with the aftermath of finding out she wasn’t an only child and discovering that much of her life had been a lie manufactured by her parents.

This was an emotional and gut wrenching story.  It shed a lot of light on the donor and recipient process and felt well researched and authentic.  The relationships were unique and occasionally felt odd, but they really worked well for the storyline.  I also loved that there were related side plots scattered throughout the book – for example, Caroline’s ex-boyfriend Keaton and Sela’s relationship with her “ex” husband.  It added layers to the story that helped deepen my connection to the characters and understand their decision making more.

This was a five star read all the way through for me.  However, I had to drop off a star for the very end.  The epilogue included a piece to the story that felt implausible and honestly, completely unnecessary.  It really did end up taking away from the feeling of the story for me, so it was enough to make this end up a four star read.

Definitely still one I would highly recommend and I am excited to read more of Strawser’s work and more novels about the donor/recipient process (I was particularly intrigued by donor swaps and would love to read a book with that in the plot line!!).

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy of this wonderful novel.

OLIVIA’S THOUGHTS ON A MILLION REASONS WHY:

Oh wow! There was a twist I never saw coming (and usually I do) that changed the whole tone of the last part of the book. It was so interesting the author even thought to go in that direction.

I really enjoyed this story and kept thinking about it every time I had to put it down. I would recommend it to others!

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Jessica Strawser for allowing me to read this book. I received an advance copy and I share this review voluntarily

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