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Still I Cannot Save You

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This candid and beautifully written memoir is a heartbreaking look at family, sisters in particular, and the healing we can and cannot do. As Kelly, an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, comes to terms with her relationship with her maddening, often dishonest and drug-addicted sister, Meghan, it’s not clear if the girls can repair the loss of trust between them. Meghan, who suffered and survived childhood cancer, is a complex and vulnerable person, with an inner sweetness still visible (at times) to her sister, who has seen it all.

As much a story about forgiveness as it is about love, – what does one do when our nearest and dearest is also the single-most factor causing us the most pain? When the choices another makes are so obviously “wrong”, yet so completely and utterly out of our own hands that any retaliatory actions we may even consider spiral us further into anxiety and despair?

The girls, so radically different, each live through their own challenges and crises, both feeling the push and pull of the intensity born of sisterhood, as they do their best to offer assistance to each other, and struggle to stay afloat themselves.

Kelly, a logistics officer at the time, lives in a world of rationality unknown to her sensitive and affectionate sister, whose quest for immersion and belonging takes her into dark and dangerous places. Hardest of all, as Kelly comes to terms with her own inner judgements (we all judge, but so few of us have the courage to recognize it) she must ultimately resolve how to best manage herself, while still offering support to her sister.

This is a truly gut-wrenching story, shared so selflessly by the author, taking us to a place that just doesn’t seem even remotely fair, as we follow a family, whose courage and commitment cannot help but make a reader question – would I, could I, imagine a world of my own, fraught with this level of pain, yet tackled with so much bravery?

The answer, of course, (as Kelly herself reveals so poignantly), must be lived to be actually known.

A great big thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts provided are my own.

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