Book review: 'Don't Go' explores complex family dynamics

By Shelby Scoffield

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 25 2013 4:07 p.m. MDT

"DON'T GO," by Lisa Scottoline, St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 376 pages (f)

“Don’t Go” by Lisa Scottoline is a deeply emotional book that explores complex family dynamics. The story powerfully conveys what it really means to be a hero.

Readers are introduced to Chloe Scanlon, a young mother whose husband is an army doctor in Afghanistan. While Chloe is cooking in the kitchen, she dies suddenly in an apparent household accident.

Devastated by the news, Mike, Chloe’s husband, is given a 10-day leave to bury his wife. At home, Mike is at a loss of what to do with his daughter, Emily. He simply cannot comprehend raising her by himself.

Mike eventually decides to extend his tour in Afghanistan for another year. His sister-in-law and her husband offer to take care of Emily while he is gone. Relieved, Mike takes them up on their offer.

After his convoy lands on an IED, Mike is shipped to a hospital to recover from his wounds. He is honorably discharged from the army and returns home once again.

Mike struggles to adapt to his new life and a daughter he barely knows. Ultimately Mike realizes what it really means to make sacrifices for the ones he loves.

One of the most striking parts of the book is how realistic the plot is. Women can relate to husbands being deployed overseas. Many people have experienced how painful and destructive death can be.

Scottoline uses vivid imagery to capture the war in Afghanistan. Some of the most powerful moments in the book occur when Mike is living in the war-torn country.

Scottoline also writes humorous and unforgettable characters. Chatty is Mike’s friend in Afghanistan. He provides much-needed comic relief.

The only downside to the book is the complex murder scenario that unfolds toward the end of the book. It is distracting and unnecessary. It takes away from the ultimate story of Mike learning to be a father.

There is a brief sexual reference about a married couple's wedding night and an affair by one of the couples is mentioned, but otherwise it's a clean book free of any offensive language. Also, because Mike is an army doctor in Afganistan, there are graphic descriptions in the book that all relate to his work in the field.

“Don’t Go” is a quick read. Because of the deeply emotional situations, the book will largely appeal to mature readers who are women, but all readers will want to have a box of tissues nearby as they read.

Shelby Scoffield has a bachelor's in English from Brigham Young University and a master's in rhetoric and composition from Stanislaus State University. She is currently working on her teaching credentials so she can teach high school English.

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