One Minute Later by Susan Lewis is a poignant novel that also shines a very important light on organ donation.
On her twenty-seventh birthday, Vivienne “Vivi” Shager’s life forever changes after she has a heart attack. Instead of remaining in London where she works a high powered job, she returns with her mum, Gina, brother Mark and former stepfather Gil to her small seaside hometown. Vivi’s new reality involves an implant to shock her heart into beating, a strict medication regimen and a quiet, stress-free life. Now living with Gina, Vivi reconnects with her best friend, Michelle, and tries to prevent herself from falling into depression. Vivi has spent a lifetime wondering her father’s identity and she is determined to find out who he is with or without Gina’s help. After meeting a friend of Michelle’s and her husband, Vivi is stunned by the depth of her feelings for him, but not knowing what her future holds, will they grab hold of their chance for happiness?
Before her heart attack, Vivi is a bit self-centred as she works long hours and travels frequently for her job. She has little time for her mum or Michelle due to her demanding work schedule. And yet, when Vivi is faced with a true medical crisis, there is nothing Gina and Michelle won’t do for her. After her stunning diagnosis, she tries hard to keep her spirits up, but her prognosis is grim. Although grateful for Gina’s assistance, Vivi is prickly, combative and downright rude to her mum. A lot of her animosity stems from Gina’s refusal to answer her daughter’s question about who her father is. After her mum refuses to answer her questions, Vivi starts searching on her own. Will Vivi’s quest be successful?
Beginning in 1984, a secondary story arc follows Shelley, Jack and their family’s idyllic life on their farm. Shelley and Jack are blissfully in love and although finances are tight and their property needs lots of work, their family is quite happy. With their future looking very bright, the only trouble on the horizon is a bit of an on-going feud with a neighbour.
One Minute Later is an engaging novel with a lovely cast of likeable characters. Vivi’s medical diagnosis and her struggle to accept what the future holds is quite emotional yet also very informative. Both story arcs are interesting but readers will need to exercise patience since the intersection between past and present is not apparent until rather late in the story. Susan Lewis brings this endearing novel to a bittersweet conclusion that is realistic yet heart-wrenching. An engrossing novel that I enjoyed and highly recommend.