Alex, Lisa and their young son Connor made a happy little universe. But then Lisa dies in a train crash, and their universe is destroyed. Alex is shattered by loss, and overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a single father to a six-year-old boy. How can he and Connor carry on without Lisa lighting up their lives?
Then Alex meets four strangers. Two men and two women, who never met Lisa, but whose lives changed profoundly because she died. As Alex hears their stories, he begins to realise the world may not be as cruel and senseless as it seems. Perhaps, after all, the future is written in the stars...
This story begins with a tragedy and the loss of Lisa, a wonderful wife and mother. However, Lisa is described as a special person and she is an organ donor, meaning her death can save the lives of others and that is what happens, she can help four people. Alex, her husband, and Connor, their child are obviously sad and mourning but Alex sees in these four people a way to keep honoring Lisa's life and memory, even though the transplant services advise him to be careful in how he approaches these people, in the case they contact him. Alex meets the four and is especially drawn to Molly, the woman who received his wife's heart. Could it be the universe Lisa so loved has something to tell him or is he simply projecting a feeling he can't escape from?
On paper, this could be quite a story...it reminded me of that movie with Minnie Driver, Return to Me, with a very similar plot - not the same though. Of course, my romance reader side immediately imagined the possibilities but I think some readers would be surprised to know the path chosen by the author wasn't as obvious as that...
The writing style is easy and fluid, so the reading experience wasn't too demanding, but I must say that, for me, the sequence of events and how they play out just made the story feel a little plain, and the characterization of the main characters quite superficial. Some things are just too obvious, considering the theme, and while this doesn't have to be a bad thing, the writing didn't feel as if it was helping the story nor the motivation of certain situations (like Alex trying hard to meet and be friends with the people who received his wife's organs).
There is a slight twist, I'd say, regarding this whole story because the author went with a love triangle. I didn't see that one coming although the set up is rather simple, like when Molly meets the other man in a silly way. We kind of see the road being paved for her and Alex to become closer over a shared event and how Alex wishes to have someone again who reminds him of his wife and he is captivating for Molly, but the idea that what seems obvious isn't always right is placed in front of the reader in such a glaring way that there's actually no conflict, just the time it will take for the characters to realize whatever they have to.
I can't say if this is simply the author's style or if it is this book in specific but the story just has too many coincidences and easy jumps from one thing to the other without the parallel character complexity. Everything happens too easily and from a certain point on I've kind of lost interest in these characters and in whatever "lessons" they were supposed to learn or know. I also think I'd have appreciated the story more if the focus had been on the organ donation and how each person saw it and felt what it meant in this case in specific. I say this as opposed to what we have, which is Alex thinking he would have to feel instant connection to those four people.
Closer to the end, the author introduces the theory of "cellular memory", which - if I got that right - means that biological cells can store information and an organ donated can keep some of that information even on someone else's body. I'm certain the scientific articles on this can explain the concept but for someone without much knowledge it does feel a little too hard to believe. Still, Alex saw this as a way to be closer to his dead wife and if, on one hand, this is clearly sad, on the other I felt it was a bit too disputable to truly be part of this story.