Rescue by Anita Shreve

Appreciating what you have, not wishing you had taken a different path – popular theme this time of year – what if…

And if you dare to wonder?  Clarence only gets his wings when George Bailey realizes It’s A Wonderful Life as he is living it.  Anita Shreve offers her version this year with her latest book, Rescue, but her ending is more cautious – a little schmaltzy, but not as happy as Frank Capra’s classic.

Webster, a young paramedic, meets the love of his life, Sheila, at the scene of her DWI accident.  He rescues her; she gets pregnant; they marry.  For awhile, all is well – until Sheila starts drinking again and has another car accident – this time injuring two-year old Rowan.  Thinking his life and that of their two-year old would be better off without her, Webster sends Sheila away.

Fifteen years later, after yet another accident – this time involving a rebellious drunken teenage Rowan, Sheila reenters their lives.

Shreve’s story seems a little too contrived, but through Webster, she gives us a glimpse inside the head of a man who faces death and survival in his “rescue” job everyday.    No real surprises in Rescue; instead, Shreve’s strength is in the details – inviting you to become part of the family – so that you feel you are inside the story with them.