Sarah Robinson’s Every Last Drop is an emotionally charged novel surrounding a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer who refuses to let the illness take charge and ultimately wants the choice of how, where, and when she will take her final breath.
Tessa Falls, 28, is married to Kyle, the love of her life. She hopes to become a mother and wants to write a book. Her life is suddenly upended, however, when she learns she has a fast-growing, malignant brain tumor. Recalling a childhood where she lost her mother to breast cancer, Tessa realizes the devastating “power of one word.”
In memoir-like style, Robinson artfully details the harsh reality of Tessa’s days with a steady pace of appointments, tests, treatments and side effects. A claustrophobic first radiation session is particularly unnerving. When results later reveal that her days are numbered —with the likelihood of experiencing pain, seizures, blindness, and paralysis in her waning time—the story shifts focus as Tesssa researches where she can find a dignified death, one in which she is prescribed medication to help her end her life without suffering.
Robinson renders this controversial topic with both candor and grace. Well-drawn characters, including a loving husband and younger sister who fear losing Tessa and a stoic widower father who appreciates his daughter’s purposeful decision, add to the story. Visiting nurses help lighten the situation’s solemnity by lending Tessa a friendly and sympathetic ear.
As Tessa gains acceptance in her life vs. death decision, Robinson’s natural, fluid writing helps transition to the slower pace that envelops some of Tessa’s last days.
The book has some saccharin moments, like Kyle’s dance with his beautiful, newly bald wife. In addition, some may view the prologue—which warns this is not a “happily-ever-after” tale—as a spoiler. Misplaced and missing words also suggest a need for proofreading.
Nonetheless, this is a bittersweet story about love and courage, life and death, told with dignity and aplomb.
Also available as an ebook.