The short summary above does not really do it justice. Yes, it is about how the family adjusts to Chris' traumatic attack that leaves him unable to communicate except by blinking his eyes, but it is much more than that. Basically, the author has set up a discussion about sanctity of life -- covering at some point in the story, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. He explores these issues through each of the main characters: Frannie, unable to conceive of a life without her son; Vince, a gambling addict worried about the cost of treatment; Jeannie, the self-centered sister hiding her own secrets; Louise, Chris' girlfriend weighing obligation and desire; Father Norman, struggling with his own crisis of faith; Carol, the nurse who can't give up on Chris; Dr. Meredith, unable to admit defeat; Dr. Prendergast, who sees in Chris a way to further his own ambitions; and other members of the extended family who are all touched in some way by this crisis. Alternate chapters let the reader see Chris' point of view and mental state. There are no real answers here but it does raise important questions. Who does have the right to decide who lives and who dies? And how long can you hold out hope for a seriously ill patient? This novel gives a glimpse into how complex those questions can be.