Monday, December 12, 2011

(179)Second Nature: A Love Story by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Second Nature: A Love Story 

Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Pages: 384

Every now and again you run across a character that you find yourself relating to more than any character you have read in a while.  For me that was the case with Sicily Coyne in Jacquelyn Mitchard's new book, Second Nature.

Second Nature tells the story of Sicily, a young woman who received horrific burns to her body, specifically face, after a church fire kills her father and twenty-two other children. It is just a short while after that when her mother is killed, leaving Sicily an orphan to be raised by her Aunt Marie.   After hundreds of surgeries, Sicily has healed, but her face is left scarred and Sicily spends her days working from home and avoiding social situations that put her in the position of being stared at and having to answer questions.  She has been offered a face transplant, but as a well adjusted young woman with a wonderful boyfriend she declines.

Sicily is living a happy, content life on the brink of getting married when her world is rocked by the discovery that her fiance, Joey, was an accomplice to the fire that changed her life forever and that his "love" is his self imposed penance for his act.  After breaking up with Joey, Sicily agrees to the transplant in the hopes that she will be able to live a normal life and find someone to share her life with.  And she does find him, or so she thinks, with Vincent Cappadora, an older man that works in film.  After an amazing week together Sicily believes they have a future, but Vincent has other ideas.  It isn't until she realizes that she is pregnant that Vincent comes back into her life.  Now they have a decision to make.  Carrying the baby to term could put Sicily in danger for a rejection, not to mention the anti-rejection medication she took daily until she discovered she was pregnant puts their baby at great risk for birth defects. Now comes the ultimate decision, do they keep the baby or terminate the pregnancy? And will their relationship survive the decision?

You may recognize the Cappadora name from Mitchard's most famous work, The Deep End of the Ocean. I honestly did not put it all together until I went back and read the synopsis more than half way through the book.  You do get to catch up with several of the characters from that story, but the heart of Second Nature belongs to Sicily.

Having grown up with a birth defect I was often asked, "If you could have two hands, would you?" - and to answer that question, no.  I am who I am and I do just fine (most of the time) with the way I was born.  I understand why Sicily initially said no - she was doing just fine as she was.  And I also understand why she decided to say yes - she stopped being fine when she discovered her fiance pitied her instead of loved her.  For someone who is "different" there is nothing worse than pity. I could relate rather well to that punched in the gut feeling Sicily had when she discovered that the man she loved was with her out of pity and remorse.  As for Vincent and the heart-wrenching decision they had to make? Well, I can not judge, I don't know what I would do in their shoes, but it made the story that much more engrossing.

I am giving Second Nature a "Best of 2011" tag because of the feelings evoked by Sicily and her story. I cried when she cried and I felt extremely protective of her during certain sections.  But most of all because her story touched my heart and stayed with me days after finishing.  Have you read Second Nature? I would love to hear what you thought!


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I actually winced when I read the part about her fiance only being with her out of pity. This sounds like a powerful book, thanks for the recommendation.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I love this author so this is a must read for me next year! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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