"Finally. The pain, the anguish and the struggle are over.
Well, your pain, anguish and struggle are over. Me? I'm looking over a cliff, and pain, anguish, and struggle roil below amid jagged rocks of grief.
And you know how I hate heights."
Stella Rose starts with the above paragraphs. So sad, but that is what happens when your best friend dies of cancer at such a young age, leaving behind a teenage daughter. Stella Rose has asked that Abby raise her daughter Olivia. Abby is not sure she is up to the task, she misses her friend terribly as does Olivia. Stella Rose was a very organized woman, planned everything in her last year. What she did was pretty cool though, she prepared a years worth of monthly little gifts and letters for Abby and Olivia to open up together. Each present and letter has a meaning behind it. I think that is a pretty interesting idea, I think it helps Abby and Olivia handle the loss and grief. It doesn't make it any easier of course, but they are able to cope better.
Life does go on for the two of them, there are struggles of course but it is not easy taking over the care of a child that is not your own and a teenager at that. Teenagers can definitely be a handful, and Abby and Olivia grow close in spite of differences and disagreements. Abby has inner dialogues with Stella Rose and through these the reader learns what kind of person Stella Rose was and how she was able to prepare Abby for what was to come.
Abby starts dating and actually has two men vying for her, she struggles with her feelings for each man, Olivia spends a lot time with her friends and time goes on for the two of them and soon the year is over. Are they done grieving? Probably not but they have learned that life does go on and you need to focus on what is important. Stella Rose was a very wise woman.
When I first started reading the book, because it started out at the very beginning of the grief process, I thought it was going to be kind of maudlin, but it was not. I found myself liking both characters a lot. Hoping through the whole book that they would be able to come in touch with their feelings and emotions. They both find that letting go is something that they can do and Stella Rose will always be with them both. I really loved this book. At times a tear jerker but uplifting at the same time. A definite must read!