I received this book as a First Reads giveaway in exchange for my review. I have to admit that from the title (The Well: What Happens When the Mind Releases and the Heart Sustains) I was thinking
that this may be some sort of spiritual or self help book. Normally I would shy away from that sort of thing but for some reason, I thought what the heck and pushed enter on the giveaway anyway. I have been trying to branch out of my comfort zone in reading more and man am I glad that I did.
This book was unlike anything I have ever read before. It is based around the character of Grace who is an elderly woman currently in a coma in a nursing home. She is watched over and talked to often by her daughter and other family members as they try to make peace with her impending death. However you get to see inside of Grace's mind and into this whole other "dream world" that she has started creating for herself. There is a Well within this dream world that puzzles Grace and allows her to hear people talking to her in her comatose state when she sits by it.
I don't want to give anything away but this book was written in a genius manner. At first you could tell from Grace's manner of speaking that her education level was somewhat lacking and it was a little hard to get into it, but as she grew in this dream world, her knowledge and speaking even grew with her. It was amazing to see Grace grow as a character and have epiphany-like character development while in a comatose state in her mind and soul. The family members and Grace all become real people as you read about them and you can feel that you are right there with them and connecting with them.
This book seems short in page numbers, but is long in lessons and growth and learning for everyone who is a part of the story! The way that the author (Colleen Golden) has written this book about someone on life support and the family around them was pure genius! I have never previously read a book that would look at this sort of an issue and create a story around it in such an amazing way. Collen was NOT in any way afraid to touch on sensitive and possibly painful issues that may cause lesser authors to skirt around. Colleen touched upon these issues with grace and tact, letting you feel that realism of the issue without overdoing it or shoving it in your face. Given her background as a clinical neuropsychologist, I think that she was more than qualified to tackle the issues within this novel. I loved her take on these issues and the way she portrayed this large and branched out family. I was admittedly hoping for a different outcome but actually preferred the way that she ended the story with more of a realistic and hopeful take.
The only negative thing that I can really say about this book is that although we got to know so many family members so well I felt that the story didn't delve deep enough into Grace's actual children and background stories, and I would have liked to have gotten to know them a bit better. All in all I have to say that I highly recommend this book It is written in a way that would appeal to many different kinds of readers and makes it easy for you to connect to the characters. I give the book 5 out of 5 stars and commend Colleen Golden on such great story telling skills!