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Me for You


Me for You

In Lolly Winston’s ME FOR YOU, there is no lead-in to the death of Rudy Knowles' wife. The first sentence acts as both a hook and a warning --- this book is about death and loss. "Like a fool, Rudy spoke to his wife Bethany for probably ten minutes before he realized she was dead." We are then taken through the next horrifying time when Rudy realizes she is dead, calls 911, tries to revive her and fails.

Later, Rudy feels terrible guilt --- guilt that he didn't do more before Bethany had the heart attack. She had gone to the doctor the previous afternoon complaining of chest pain, but had been sent home with a diagnosis of "gas." Rudy blames himself for not taking her to the ER, making sure they checked her into the hospital. He berates himself for everything, and because their marriage was so perfect, it’s difficult for him to find his bearings without her.

"[M]any of the characters are suffering from their own personal loss. A takeaway is that everyone grieves something at some point in life, and grief is better borne when shared with loved ones."

The story then leaps forward 11 months. Rudy is still working his part-time job at Nordstrom as a pianist. He had been laid off his full-time job and worked as a pianist for years there. He usually enjoyed playing music and entertaining others, even though some of the shoppers were annoying. Many appreciated his music and stopped to chat with him. Now, though, after his loss, Rudy is not doing well.

Here the narrative alternates between Rudy and his co-worker Sasha's points of view. The two had been acquaintances, chatting at times, smiling at each other. Now, though, in spite of his grief over Bethany, Rudy finds himself thinking more and more about Sasha, who immigrated to America from Hungary with her husband and daughter. She and her husband are separated, and her daughter died years ago.

Interestingly, Winston also includes a few chapters, still in the third person, from Bethany's perspective. She does a lovely job creating the narrative from Rudy's point of view. His actions, his feelings, even his dialogue become increasingly chaotic and unraveled. It's evident that he’s falling apart.

At the same time, we are getting to know Sasha, CeCe and even Bethany herself. CeCe is going through a difficult time as well, and we meet her not only as Rudy's caring daughter, but also as a mother, and --- through her parents’ musings about the past --- as a child growing up. CeCe is a wonderful daughter and finally realizes that her father needs help. She convinces him to be admitted into a hospital to receive treatment for his depression.

About one-third of the story takes place in the medical psych ward at Stanford. Winston creates a fabulous setting there with caring nurses and doctors, and patients who are not "crazy" but rather people just like our neighbors, parents and children, who have run into a tough time and need a bit of help to regain their equanimity.

Rudy's disjointed narrative continues as they work on getting his medications right. His dialogue is described as Tourette-like, and his thoughts race from idea to person to anger to grief. A beautiful scene is when his psychiatrist explains grief to him. He tells him that grief is a chronic condition and says, "Because if you accept grief as something you will likely always carry with you, it is less shocking when it rears its head." He compares grief to rain. One may not like rain, but if we accept that every so often it's going to rain and we need to deal with it, it becomes a little easier to bear.

In ME FOR YOU, many of the characters are suffering from their own personal loss. A takeaway is that everyone grieves something at some point in life, and grief is better borne when shared with loved ones. Winston also makes the very real point that while there may be new loves and relationships in people's lives, that doesn't make the grief, or the past love, disappear.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on March 15, 2019

Me for You
by Lolly Winston

  • Publication Date: February 11, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501179136
  • ISBN-13: 9781501179136