Anna Bolles has spent the last five years of her life learning to live with Multiple Sclerosis. She believes she has come to terms with the fact that her dreams of marriage and a family are no longer viable. She has had to accept the fact that her athletic lifestyle is no longer possible.
Then one day, while touring a photography exhibit, she is intrigued by one picture and meets Joseph Malone, the photographer and the man who will shake up her whole world.
The chemistry between them is immediate, but they both step back out of fear, and in Joe’s case, the need to make sure that he is ready to become involved with a woman with a disability. They communicate by email and phone at first. Joe’s responsibilities as marketing manager and pilot for his family’s air charter business keep him traveling. Meanwhile, Anna deals with the politics of teaching at a private school, where her MS is seen as a liability by some of the parents and faculty.
Joe’s determination to make their relationship work is wonderful to see. What I like about him is that he isn’t patronizing and doesn’t try to take care of her. He respects her independence and follows her lead in knowing what she can and cannot do. Joe is a little emotionally distant at first, but he eventually begins to open up.
Ms. Mandel does wonderful job of showing the realities of what living with MS is really like. She doesn’t gloss over or glamorize the triumphs and struggles that Anna must deal with everyday. While Anna believes that she has come to terms with the disease, it takes a catastrophic episode for her to really accept the fact that she has it. The resolution of the story was heart wrenching yet real. There was no obvious happily ever after, but you close this book knowing that they will do everything in their power, with love, understanding and compromise to get there.