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Book Review: Bluff: Even a Life Wasted is Worth Dying For by Lenore Skomal

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In Bluff: Even a Life Wasted is Worth Dying For by Lenore Skomal, when Jude Black tells her best friend Frances that she is pregnant, she opens up a can of worms. Jude refuses to divulge the father’s name, and there is nothing about her lifestyle that would indicate that she would put herself in a position to get pregnant. She seems to disassociate herself from the life that is evolving inside her. When Frances gets a call that Jude has been in a terrible accident, she is extremely distraught. Jude has sustained severe head injuries from a fall off a bluff near her home. Frances doesn’t know if it was intentional or accidental. She also doesn’t know who is responsible for the fall.

Having been taken to a Catholic hospital, all decisions made are based upon the views of the religion. Since Jude is twenty-two weeks along, it is decided that she will be kept alive while the baby continues to develop. Appearing to be in a vegetative state, Jude is actually very aware of what is happening around her. As the life within her begins to move, she also experiences true joy for the first time in her life. Being able to hear conversations gives Jude an idea of what the future holds for her. Her silent presence also begins to give others a sense of peace. One nurse in particular begins to confide her life story to Jude. She had previously been very rude. Even though it seems one-sided, a true friendship evolves.

Frances and Jude’s estranged sister have issues about Jude’s fate. Without a hope for her recovery, long term decisions about what should be done for Jude and the baby are quite heart wrenching. Keeping Jude alive and trapped in her body seems cruel, especially when so many others could benefit from her organ donations. But there is also a fear that she might miraculously recover. Nothing is simple about this situation. Frances also makes some personal choices for herself that go against her true nature. Not realizing that she is being manipulated, she gets her heart broken by both the loss of a friend and the loss of a lover. The situation is incredibly complex, and shocking answers are revealed.

I totally found myself engrossed in this novel. There were moments where I felt like I was trapped with Jude in her world, unable to react to those around me. That feeling was almost suffocating. I cannot imagine how it must be for people who are incapacitated to this degree. Learning about Jude’s tormented childhood and the lives of those around her revealed a lot about why each character acted like they did. This also includes Jude’s own behavior. Her greatest amount of personal growth occurs while she lies dying. Fortunately, she has the opportunity for this one shot of redemption.

If you are looking for a light, fluffy read, Bluff is not for you. However, if you are looking for a novel that will totally capture your attention and provide you with a great deal of thought-provoking insights, then this is a must read. Discussion questions at the end of the book also make it a great choice for a reader’s group. Bluff: Even a Life Wasted is Worth Dying For will definitely stir up feelings that will linger long after you stop reading it.

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