Sara’s Pick: Still Life With Monkey by Katharine Weber
This is the story of a young man, now a quadriplegic from a car accident, his wife and his helper, a tufted capuchin monkey named Ottoline. Architect Duncan and his co-worker Todd had gone to visit a construction site and when driving home were involved in a horrendous traffic accident which killed Todd and left Duncan paralyzed from a complete fracture of his C6 vertebrae. He is so depressed by all the care he needs to survive that his wife, Laura, looks into getting a helper monkey. Enter Ottoline. She bonds well with Duncan, loves Nutella, and has a bit of an independent streak. Like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, he uses the binoculars Laura gets him to watch the neighborhood, taking turns with Ottoline. Once it warms up enough, he motors around the block in his electric wheelchair (he has partial use of 2 fingers on his left hand) and meets the three charming children from across the street. The bottom line is – is all of this enough to give Duncan a new determination to live his life to the fullest in spite of his injury. This is a beautifully written, heart wrenching, and funny look at what it is to make the decision to live or die in an unbearable situation. A wonderful, bittersweet book.