(Book received from, and review written for, TripFiction.com)
Love vs Giving Up My rating: 4 out of 5
Didi, doing her first internment as a trainee psychologist in a state of the art military hospital/rehabilitation centre, finds herself drawn to a wounded marine called Walker. However Walker is struggling to cope with his injuries, his recollections of the event that caused them and what the future will hold for him. And then there is Didi's boyfriend Zac, who is rich and famous and every girl's dream.
Didi's goals include having a perfect marriage and life, like that of her parents, a life that Zac could surely give her. Whilst working in the military centre she, of course, has an obligation not to become too close to the patients, however having met Walker life isn't quite that simple!
This is a wonderful romance, with a deeper theme of what it is like to one moment be a fit active marine with a promising career ahead, and the next moment to be in a military hospital with life changing injuries. Mila Gray paints the outline of what the various patients in the centre are going through, and leaves the reader to colour it in, making the imagery very strong.
Other themes within this book look at why people cope so differently with similar situations, why the young join the military knowing they could be risking their lives, how Post Traumatic Stress affects people differently, and what it is like to suddenly have to consider a future so different to the one previously envisaged. Answers are not given! This is a book about overcoming difficulties, changing your goals when the old ones become inappropriate, and seeing things as they are, not through a mist of blackness or an unrealistic glow of brightness. And about seeing a chance for happiness and grabbing it.
The characters are well drawn and true to life. There are times you want to shout at them, but their friends do it for you, and they don't listen anyway. The chapters alternate between life as seen from Didi's perspective and life as seen by Walker. There are many light and humorous moments, also times of great sadness and some despair. During the sad narratives I found myself unable to put the book down, gripped to see how it turned out. During the lighter moments there are some laugh out loud moments.
Set in California, this book gives brief glimpses of Californian life, but the main setting for this book is the hospital/rehabilitation centre.A great read, light enough for any occasion, but with a depth that kept me interested, brought the characters to life and made me keep turning the pages.