Summary and book reviews of Coming Back To Me by Caroline Leavitt

Coming Back To Me

by Caroline Leavitt

Coming Back To Me
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2001, 306 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2003, 320 pages

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Book Summary

"Rarely has an author succeeded so splendidly at making real the inexplicable event (here a life-threatening childbirth) while also reminding us of the struggle between sisters, the enchantment of love, and the kindness of others. Do not miss this novel!"

It can take a long time to build up a life, and only moments to destroy it. Gary and Molly meet in the way couples do: after a long haul of being single, they quickly become soul mates and rejoice in that fact. Beautiful, red-haired Molly ignites a fire in Gary, and he eases the pain she feels about her past. Starting a family is something they both want badly to do, and with great joy Molly finds herself pregnant.

When she leaves for the hospital, things start to go seriously wrong. Only a few weeks later, Gary is alone with a newborn and a mountain of medical bills he has no means to pay for. Desperate for help, he calls on Molly’s long-estranged sister, Suzanne.

From Sue Miller to Elizabeth Berg, best-selling authors have tackled the challenges of love and marriage. Caroline Leavitt claims the turf in her own exciting way, twisting and turning a medical nightmare into an opportunity for redemption and hope.

Prologue

Gary and the baby sit at the Tastee Diner. Otis is only three weeks old and lies swaddled in a soft blue-striped blanket on Gary's lap. This is what Otis knows: the red leatherette seats; the soft blur of sound coming from a jukebox in back, which is usually something by Patsy Cline or Dolly Parton, something country; Gary; and for three whole days, Molly. Three days so far, Gary reminds himself. So far.

Every night Gary orders the same thing: black coffee and a cup of hot water to warm Otis's bottle. Otis is always in a new outfit. Today he's wearing blue and gray stripes with a matching hat and booties. Four changes every day because he christens each and every thing with spit-up and formula and rivers of drool. It doesn't matter. The supply of clothing is endless. Every day presents arrive in the mail, packaged in silver, laced with ribbon, tied with cards, wishing them luck, sending them prayers. Otis looks great in whatever Gary puts on him. ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About this book
The questions and discussion topics that follow are intended to enhance your group’s reading of Caroline Leavitt’s profoundly moving novel, Coming Back To Me. We hope you see these questions as inroads into a deeply-felt novel about love and loss, memory and redemption and the way families come apart—and together.

Gary, an orphan, and Molly, who feels herself orphaned, meet, fall in love, and marry, delighted to have formed a family unto themselves. But problems arise when the tightly knit, hardscrabble community they move into isn’t welcoming or approving. The community softens a bit when Molly gets pregnant, but then, days after giving birth, a devastating medical emergency arises and Molly is ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Washington Post

Leavitt conjures up a nuanced cast of characters.

The New Yorker

Leavitt's devotion to her characters, and to a surprising world view, gives the story a certain gravity.

Kirkus Reviews

In the vein of Jacquelyn Mitchard or Jane Hamilton. Realistic, well-plotted, eminently readable portrait of a family in crisis.

Library Journal

Leavitt has a talent for creating believable characters whose problems touch the reader’s heart.

Author Blurb Katharine Weber, author of The Music Lesson
A rich and personal novel. What excellent writing, and what subtlety and intelligence inform this book. Readers who wait impatiently for the next Jane Hamilton or Sue Miller novel will find another favorite in Caroline Leavitt.

Author Blurb Mickey Pearlman, author of What To Read The Essential Guide for Reading Group Members and Other Book Lovers.
Don’t pick up Coming Back to Me, if you are supposed to be doing your taxes, the laundry or leaving for the office. You will read this extraordinary novel in one sitting, far into the night, if necessary! Rarely has an author succeeded so splendidly at making real the inexplicable event (here a life-threatening childbirth) while also reminding us of the struggle between sisters, the legacy of a missing mother, the enchantment of a healthy love affair, the kindness of others, and the resiliency that is born of impending disaster. Do not, repeat, no not miss this novel. Everything else can wait.

Author Blurb Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies Some Thoughts On Faith
Caroline Leavitt is a marvelous writer.

Author Blurb Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
Human nature can run from Caroline Leavitt, but cannot hide. She knows people, their fears, their blunders, and their reformation, and she tells them plain.

Reader Reviews

Anonymous

Caroline Leavitt is a master. Her control over her characters is something to watch; she creates people who are beautifully human, poetically flawed. This is a book to stay up all night reading, and then let your mind linger over a week later. This ...   Read More

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