Deeply traumatized after her daughter, Arella, is born dead, fertility counselor Holly Thomas struggles to achieve inner peace. Roger—Holly's supportive husband and a prominent fertility doctor—accepts her grief-induced eccentricities, but his intolerant Christian family resents her and her Jewish roots. When Edward, Roger's brother, openly belittles the Bar Mitzvah of Daniel, Holly's son, tensions escalate, and her whole world threatens to fall apart. To overcome heartbreak and reflect on self-discovery and relationships, Holly and Roger take a group of patients from their clinic on a fertility tour. This tour becomes a spiritual pilgrimage for unrealized truths.
Kemme elegantly examines the complicated aspects of life and relationships. Using Holly's experiences with a failed pregnancy, her in-laws, and Roger, Kemme focuses on how pain can shape and enlighten us. That religious intolerance can inflict significant emotional damage is depicted through Roger's family members who weaponize words to hurt Holly. This, along with Holly's emotional fragility, causes strain in her marriage. However, Roger's unwavering love helps Holly stay somewhat balanced, letting her emotionally heal many patients who cannot conceive. Some of these couples include Leah and Rachel, the Rhanjhas, the Chandlers, Burbages, and Jane Brown and her mother. As Holly and Roger take their chosen couples on a fertility tour to England, various colliding elements within the patients' lives emerge, thereby projecting how relationships bless or burden us. Pain becomes a recurrent theme in the novel, neutralized by the healing touch of water as a metaphor. Arella's grave is near water, and the visit to the sacred sites of England serves as ritual cleansing for the characters. Artistically nuanced language and the sincere, soothing tone bring out the true beauty of this literary novel. This is an introspective, gentle novel that illuminates and rejuvenates in the same breath.
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