Whatever you Love, Louise Doughty

 “Is there any limit to the self-delusion human beings are capable of?”

Whatever you Love is a deeply emotional and yet somehow blunt look at how humans and in this case a single mother deal with the aftermath of their child’s death. It appreciates the most rawest of feelings from shock to grief to hatred. The protagonist, Laura, is not an easy character to bond with at first-the majority of people will be able to empathise with her feelings but not possibly understand them. But as Doughty takes us back in time to see Laura’s past and what made her who she is and why her relationships exist as they do, her current decisions and reactions make sense. This book is not sad, nor is it angry. It’s a look at a life that was ‘normal’ and then shattered. It shows a woman failing at her attempt to ‘cope’. Doughty uses the past to paint a heart-breakingly dear relationship between Laura and her daughter, but uses the present to ensure we never forget the doomed ending of this relationship.


The ending is strange, and in no way predictable but when looking over the book and thinking about, one can see that in a roundabout kind of way, that is how everything was supposed to end up. I wouldn’t in any way call it ‘bittersweet’, after all her child is dead, and Laura in no way get what she wants (her child back). However, in her own ways she does find a sort of closure. We finish not quite knowing the extent of Laura’s grief (she goes through a lot and at times seems to be losing sanity) but we see the ‘normal’ faces of grief through her son and her ex-husband.


Well worth the read as it is definitely not your typical ‘death of child’ book. It starts with the death and then hones in on the relationships that start and the ones that falter because of the death.


“Whatever we love can be taken away from us at any moment but the loss of what we love belongs to us forever.”


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