When my sis WenQing at MYSJ forum told me that she would read Anna Quindlen’s One True Thing, I decided to read it again with her, because it is always a good feeling of knowing that someone else in the world is reading the same book along with you.
The book is about a family of five (a pair of parents and three grown-up children), falling apart after the mother was diagnosed with cancer. The daughter, the oldest of three children, was pressured by her father to put her career on hold to take care of her mother, while he went about his business as usual. Although feeling bitter and resentful towards her father, the daughter gained tremendous strength and wisdom through the whole ordeal. While reading, shopping, cooking together with her mom, the daughter got reconnected with her mother in a way that had never happened before. Especially the mother’s suicide with morphine pills, as revealed surprisingly at the end of the book, made the daughter re-evaluate her mother’s life and her relationships with her parents.
I am so glad that I reread the book. When I first read it in 2000, I was relatively young, and saw the events unfold through the daughter’s eyes. Now I am much older, and tend to imagine the plot through the mother’s eyes. What went through the mother’s mind during those days, from her diagnosis to her death? I can’t help wondering why she committed suicide and whether her final act was a heroic or a cowardice act. If I were her, would I have wanted to be kept alive when living is worse than death?