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Range of Motion

Cover of Range of Motion

Range of Motion

A Novel
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In this exquisite, emotionally rich novel, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg offers a deeply satisfying story about the bonds of love and the balm of friendship. A young man named Jay lies in a coma after suffering a freak accident, and his wife, Lainey, is the only one who believes he will recover. She sits at his bedside, bringing him reminders of the ordinary life they shared: fragrant flowers, his children's drawings, his own softly textured shirt. When Lainey's faith in his recovery falters, she is sustained by two women, Alice and Evie, who teach her about the endurance of friendship--and the genuine power of hope. Filled with beautiful writing and truths about life, Range of Motion is hard to put down and impossible to forget.

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From the Trade Paperback edition.

In this exquisite, emotionally rich novel, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg offers a deeply satisfying story about the bonds of love and the balm of friendship. A young man named Jay lies in a coma after suffering a freak accident, and his wife, Lainey, is the only one who believes he will recover. She sits at his bedside, bringing him reminders of the ordinary life they shared: fragrant flowers, his children's drawings, his own softly textured shirt. When Lainey's faith in his recovery falters, she is sustained by two women, Alice and Evie, who teach her about the endurance of friendship--and the genuine power of hope. Filled with beautiful writing and truths about life, Range of Motion is hard to put down and impossible to forget.

Look for special features inside.
Join the Circle for author chats and more.
RandomHouseReadersCircle.com

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    I never did believe that. I always felt I had a kind of con¬tinual appreciation with a flame that did not flicker, despite the ongoing assaults of an imperfect life. I didn't think I was the only one, either. I thought that all around me were awake people with hearts huge and whole and open. And I wondered, after the accident happened, what is the point in this? Where is the meaning in it? What lesson can I possi¬bly learn?

    But sometimes lessons take the crooked path. I mean that I used to wonder how I would feel if I were suddenly plucked from my normal life. I wondered how I would see it; wondered, in fact, if I would see it. I suppose it's like the desire for a true mirror to reflect all of our parts, both visi¬ble and unseen. I think now the accident was a way of that happening. Because I did get plucked from my normal life, put in the position of seeing it from another vantage point. And I would say that I did see it. I would say that I saw and saw and saw it. And though the method is not one I would have chosen to verify a supposition, I would also say that my gratefulness is unutterable.

    Ican tell you how it happened. It's easy to say how it happened. He walked past a building, and a huge chunk of ice fell off the roof, and it hit him in the head. This is Chap¬linesque, right? This is kind of funny. People start to laugh when I tell them. I see the start of their hand to their mouth, their poor disguise. I laughed when I heard. I thought after the doctor told me what happened that Jay would get on the phone and say, "Jeez, Lainey, come and get me. I've got a goose egg the size of the world. Come take me home." Only what happened wasn't like Chaplin: Jay didn't land on his butt with his legs sticking out at chopstick angles, twitch his mustache, get back up and walk away. He landed on his side, and stayed there--rather like a child sleeping, the ambu¬lance attendant told the doctor. He was on his side, his arm draped peacefully across his chest, and he didn't wake up at the hospital nor has he since.
    Now there is no ice on buildings. Now daffodils sway, uncertain in their newness. Now the hospital is going to transfer him to a nursing home. No more they can do, they told me in our little meeting this morning.

    "Wait," I said. "There has to be more." I wanted a bigger conference, one of those fancy ones where the social worker comes and tries not to let me see her looking at her watch. It's a tacky watch. You shouldn't try to make a watch look like a bracelet. One or the other. But anyway, Wait, I said, and they said, Sorry, Mrs. Berman, we just can't keep him. I said nothing after that. I thought I would sit there saying nothing until they gave in and said okay. They didn't do that. They left, one by one. I saw the white coat of the neurologist flapping a bit as he walked past, the head nurse looking at notes she pulled out of her pocket. I heard the squeak of the physical therapist's new sneakers, Nikes, he'd said yesterday, he always buys Nikes, and we'd talked about the relative merits of sneakers and I'd watched the sun play off the top of his hair while he gave Jay range of motion. That is what they call the passive exercise Jay gets here, range of motion. He can no longer jog every morning, returning on Sundays with a bag from Lessinger's bakery that smells of warm sugar and is stained with irresistible patterns of translucence from the grease. He can't move at all. So every day, a few times a day, someone must put each of Jay's body parts through all the movements of which they are capable. First the thumb is bent, then straightened, then bent and straightened again, twice more. Next, each finger is done...

Reviews-
  • Entertainment Weekly

    "The day you open this book you will miss all your appointments because . . . you will read it straight through."

  • Chicago Tribune "A simple but intensely moving story about the redemptive power of love . . . [Elizabeth Berg is] a writer whose luminous prose is likely to stay with you a long, long time."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "A luminous, bittersweet, almost mystical meditation on the unexpected, often hidden, joys found in the least likely of places."
  • People "The terrifically talented Berg at her best."
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