You and Me and Us
by Alison Hammer
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
release date: April 7, 2020
Paperback, 432 pages
from Goodreads –
The heartbreaking, yet hopeful, story of a mother and daughter struggling to be a family without the one person who holds them together—a perfect summer read for fans of JoJo Moyes and Marisa de los Santos.
*Attention – this review has minor spoilers.
Have you ever overheard a private conversation and then felt guilty because you couldn’t help but continue to listen? You and Me and Us by Alison Hammer is a novel that invites you, even implores you, to bear witness to the inner workings of a family in crisis and as you read, you find yourself rooting in different ways for each of the characters.
Alexis Gold, her partner Tommy, and their daughter, CeCe are a close, albeit nontraditional family. Alexis is a working mother who puts almost all of her energy and attention into her newly opened ad agency. Tommy is a psychiatrist who works out of a home office and pretty much runs the household. CeCe is a typical teenager. She is very close to her dad and somewhat resentful of her mother.
Hammer sets this up beautifully with relatable examples such as one in the beginning of the story. CeCe, a budding chef, has prepared a special evening meal for her family. Tommy makes a point to remind Alexis before she heads off to work and she promises not to be late. A problem with a client pops up and she ends up hours late to find the special meal is over. She tries to soothe her daughter’s frustration by telling her, “Dinner smells amazing!” CeCe responds, “It was amazing…two hours ago.” Thus sets up the dynamic between mother and daughter. Tommy is always reasonable as he plays peacemaker and is clearly the glue that holds things together.
As the story unfolds, Alexis notices Tommy has developed a persistent cough. She is unprepared when he reveals he has been to the doctor. He has cancer and does not intend to seek treatment. His argument is that it would not extend his life by very much and he is choosing quality over quantity. We witness Alexis’ pain as she tries to come to terms of what this means. CeCe is eventually told but in a manner that is not as planned. Her initial reaction is to act out.
Tommy’s wish is that the family spend the summer at their beach house, a place that holds special memories. They’ve not visited as often in recent years for a variety of reasons and Alexis is reluctant at first, but in the end, they leave to spend the summer in Florida. The story continues from here and we meet several important characters who play important roles in each of their lives.
You and Me and Us was a book I could not put down. I read it start to finish in a matter of hours and by the end, I was ugly crying. The characters are so realistic and multidimensional that you feel like these are close friends that you’ve known forever. Your emotions are going to be all over the place as you ride the highs and lows of a family living with cancer. There are plenty of curveballs along the way that just serve to draw you more deeply into this story. This is definitely a book not to miss!