With or Without You
Stella and Simon are at a crossroads in their relationship. Stella wants stability and a child; Simon wants another chance at fame with his band. Years ago, Stella relished the touring and excitement, but now, on the cusp of a lucky break for Simon’s band, she finds that she doesn’t want to join him in L.A. for a career-changing concert. They argue; they drink; they get high. And when Stella has a bad reaction to the drugs, she goes into a coma. Forced into the role of caretaker, Simon must shift his priorities, and over the many weeks that follow, he grows close to Stella’s doctor friend, Libby. When Stella emerges from her coma, absolutely nothing is the same as it was before. Stella, Simon, and Libby must all reconsider who they are, what they want, and what’s worth fighting for.
Leavitt deftly portrays Stella’s mindset both before and during her coma, and the dreamy netherworld in which Stella finds herself eventually gives way to an almost miraculous opening up of talent and possibility. The changing points of view give each character a chance to wrestle with questions of identity, loyalty, regret, and hope. Although no character is blameless in the sharply shifting tale of love and affection, Leavitt shows that sometimes it’s enough to simply do the best you can and take responsibility for the consequences, whatever they may be.
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