Rescue by Anita Shreve

Anita Shreve
Little, Brown and Company (2010)
ISBN 9780316020725
Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (3/11)


“Rescue” begins with Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Peter Webster arriving at the scene of a car accident in which alcohol was a contributing factor. New to the profession, Webster has not yet developed the ability to keep his work life separate from his personal life. Subsequently, he becomes fixated on Sheila, the woman he rescued from the accident. After pursuing her for a while, they eventually marry and have a daughter named Rowan. Sheila’s alcoholism becomes a major problem in their lives and Webster is left to raise Rowan alone. Now, fifteen years later, Webster needs Sheila’s help to keep their daughter from going down the wrong path.

The two main characters – Webster and Sheila – are very well-developed and evoke a great deal of sympathy. As an EMT, Webster is constantly saving and helping strangers but he is unable to do the same for his family. He wants to be Sheila’s savior from her alcoholism and a past abusive relationship, but those things are not under his control. His devotion to his daughter is obvious, but the guilt he feels about her growing up without her mother is often overwhelming. Sheila’s troubled past has left her jaded and dependent. She sees Webster as her safety net to protect her from the world. She lacks the strength to overcome her problems and selfishly puts her needs ahead of her daughter’s needs.

The storyline is very good but I was a little disappointed that the book skips over fifteen years of their lives. Some references are made to those years, but I would have liked to have experienced parts of them in more depth. I also would have liked the inclusion of an epilogue. As the characters’ lives finally reconnected, the story ended. I want to know what happened with their relationships afterward.

“Rescue” portrays an eye-opening view of how alcohol (or other addictions) can affect a relationship. This book is intended for an adult audience. Women will probably appreciate the subject matter more than men because it involves relationships and feelings more than action or suspense. It is a story that will touch everyone who reads it.

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