Good Morning America August Book Pick from Zibby Owens
One of Popsugar's Incredible Books of August
One of People Magazine's Best Books of the Week
One of AARP's Best Books of August
A Publisher's Weekly Fall Book of Note
A Public Library Association Buzzed Book
Joe Donahue interviews me on the national NPR show The Book Show.
After almost twenty years together, Stella and Simon are starting to run into problems. An up-and-coming rock musician when they first met, Simon has been clinging to dreams of fame even as the possibility of it has grown dimmer, and now that his band might finally be on the brink again, he wants to go on the road, leaving Stella behind. But when she falls into a coma on the eve of his departure, he has to make a choice between stardom and his wife—and when she wakes a different person, with an incredible artistic talent of her own, the two of them must examine what it is that they really want.
Unapologetically honest and intimately written, With or Without You is a contemporary story of what happens to relationships as the people in them change, whether slowly or in one cataclysmic swoop.
"In the hands of another writer, like Amy Sohn or Emma Straub, these bougie New York types might have been subject to a touch of satire. But Leavitt is not an ironist. She takes her characters and their troubles very seriously, more like Celeste Ng or Joshua Henkin. But there’s also a splash of near-magical realism, when Stella returns from her coma with a gift of creativity and insight that verges on the superhuman. A little touch of Alice Hoffman or Elizabeth Berg, you could say what I like best about Leavitt — her signature, perhaps — is her fearlessness with plot. I’ll take a good coma story with a miracle recovery anytime."
Marion Winik Minneapolis Star Tribune
"At this particular time, when the earth is constantly shifting under one's feet, there is a thrill in picking up a book that distracts from the anxieties of day-to-day life; that thrill becomes meaningful when the book also deals with sudden change and how individuals can be transformed by catastrophe into something better. Ms Leavitt's talent for recognizing the beauty in the mundane--as well as her ability to craft characters with tenderness and empathy--means that the paths Stella, Simon and Libby take feel true to their stories, even when those paths lead to surprising places." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wendeline O. Wright
"Think Sleeping Beauty, but with a coma and a middle-age sort-of love triangle. In Leavitt’s propulsive novel, a highly responsible nurse, Stella, falls into a coma while her longtime partner Simon, a rock ’n’ roll has-been, and Libby, her best friend and one of her doctors, develop an intense bond. When Stella recovers, the equilibrium and dynamics of these relationships are recalibrated, and avoiding easy endings, Leavitt generously finds paths for this trio of characters, each bearing childhood wounds, and imagines a world in which each finds a different sort of fulfillment — and not necessarily the one they were seeking. "-
FIVE HOT BOOKS, The National Book Review, Elizabeth Taylor
With or Without You” is ultimately about how we turn catastrophe and regret into something transformative, and we can’t help rooting for these characters to finally find the fulfillment that so eludes them." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Leavitt has a happy knack for making an unusual circumstance believable and her characters flawed, which is to say, they quickly become people we care about." Washington Independent Review of Books
"With or Without You” is one of this fall’s most compelling page-turners and possesses an intricate and involving plot that lives up to its fresh premise." Karin Gillespie, By the Book, Augusta Chronicle
"Leavitt has crafted an irresistible portrait of midlife ennui and the magic of breaking free." People Magazine, The Best New Books
"Old secrets, healed wounds and surprising futures. One character's coma is only the first surprise in this satisfying story of middle-aged love" STARRED Kirkus Review.
"Back in April, I wrote about how difficult it was to concentrate on a book...The subsequent months have found me reading with more pleasure and greater focus." John Warner Chicago Tribune Books recommends With or Without You for pandemic reading
"A quietly intimate story to get lost in. It's a moving story with characters you can't help but care for, especially Stella, who must builds a new life after her brush with death." AARP
"A redemption tale anchored in a medical chronicle, threaded with the finest filaments of magical realism. Starting from a point of stasis, Leavitt pushes her characters toward profound personal change. In the chaos of 2020, the story of a coma patient and her bereft life partner has an unexpected lightness. Its release is perfectly timed for backyard reading during a global pandemic." Jennifer Levin, the Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo
"A captivating and beautiful novel. Engaging, emotional and even joyous." Ellen Meister, Long Island Woman
"...a poignant, instantly compelling novel about love, change and the power of timing.... WITH OR WITHOUT YOU is a perfect picture of what [Leavitt] can do when left with a spark of inspiration and a gripping premise." Bookreporter, Rebecca Munro
"Packs an emotional wallop and this: Leavitt’s seamless writing easily carries readers through the compelling story. .Leavitt’s fans and readers of domestic drama will be thrilled.- Booklist
"Illuminating. This is a highly readable exploration of the fluid nature of relationships and redemptive power of self-reflection." Publishers' Weekly
"An intensely poignant, stirring novel that you won’t want to put down. A smart domestic drama about love, friendship, betrayal and resilience.
The Patriot Ledger, Nancy Harris
"We love Caroline Leavitt’s interviews for A Mighty Blaze, especially her chat with John freakin’ Irving, so we can’t wait to get our hands on her latest novel, which is available now from Algonquin Books" Writer's Bone, 22 Books That Should be on Your Radar, August
Author Caroline Leavitt has written a sterling novel about relationships, growing up and how a medical crisis can change someone. It’s a compelling story that keeps the reader engaged. -Red Carpet Crash
“A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own. With tenderness and incisive insight, Leavitt spotlights a woman's unexpected journey towards her art.”
Madeline Miller, author of Circe, #1 New York Times Bestseller
"Back in April, I wrote about how difficult it was to concentrate on a book...The subsequent months have found me reading with more pleasure and greater focus." John Warner of The Chicago Tribune recommends With or Without You for pandemic reading.
What a compelling read this book is. With or Without You asks the great question of what happens to a long-loving couple if one of them changes utterly. This novel gives us high drama while keeping the fairest possible view of the messy lives of these characters. Another triumph for Caroline Leavitt.”
Joan Silber, National Book Critic Circle award winner, Improvement
"A wonderful novel about life as mess and disappointment, life as catastrophe and regret, but also life as transformation and resilience. Leavitt’s characters are great company, and watching them find a way forward in their suddenly altered worlds is a joy. Deeply engaging, tense but hopeful, and completely recommended – Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times Bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award
"In With or Without You, Caroline Leavitt once again explores disaster's aftermath and its affect on the lives of ordinary people tethered by love and shared history. What makes this novel so poignant, and also makes it feel so true, is that there is no going back. There is only now, the newness of their altered realities and the courage to continue.”
Helen Schulman, internationally bestselling author of This Beautiful Life and Come With Me
“After all of their lives are irrevocably altered by a single tragic incident, Stella, Simon, and Libby--the major characters in Caroline Leavitt’s compelling, deeply moving new novel--are forced to make complex choices between freedom and responsibility, love and loyalty. Leavitt depicts her characters without judgment, and by doing so compels readers to ask themselves what they might do in such difficult moments.” Ron Rash, Pen Faulkner finalist, New York Times Bestselling author of The Risen
“With or Without You is a compulsively readable novel of artistic ambition and the various betrayals lovers and friends both endure and inflict on each other. It also asks fascinating questions about the stability of the self and our capacity – perhaps even our secret desire? – to reinvent ourselves. Caroline Leavitt is a born storyteller, and this is one knockout of a story.” --- Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men
“When I started reading Caroline Leavitt's gorgeously written page-turner, With or Without You, I felt like I were falling in love: flushed, fascinated, filled with hope, fear and joy. Leavitt's exploration of the many ways in which we change over the course of a lifetime—and how we keep or lose those we love throughout these mutations—is compassionate, profound and moving. Beyond being utterly captivated, I felt like I had grown wiser and more humane after reading this beautiful novel.”
Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation and Searching for Sylvie Lee
Not only does Caroline Leavitt write like an angel, in WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, she has come up with a plot that is both wildly original and which rings ancient bells about the the way life’s most awful surprises sometimes coming bearing the greatest of gifts. Stella, a nurse, wakes from a coma with extraordinary abilities that threaten her lover, Simon, a musician down on his luck. Pushed toward choices she never knew she had, Stella discovers that her most remarkable power may be the will to discover herself — and reading the newest from one of America’s great storytellers, you may discover the same thing.
Jacquelyn Mitchard author, The Deep End of the Ocean
“Caroline Leavitt's new novel With or Without You seduced me instantly and held my heart from the first page to the last. Like Elena Ferrante's raw and intimate explorations into human relationships this novel will make you laugh, cry, yell, and possibly more. At the heart of the story is the art of a woman's life, pulsing with beauty, desire, loss, never-ending change, and the grit it takes to keep going.” Lidia Yuknavitch, The Book of Joan
"This fresh, engaging, intimate tale of love and identity subverts the reader’s expectations again and again. Caroline Leavitt refuses to take one cliche’d turn. A complete original, an absolute delight."—Janet Fitch, The Revolution of Marina M., Chimes of a Lost Cathedral.
“Caroline Leavitt has accomplished in With or Without the hardest but most profound task of the novelist: she makes us not only understand but care about characters as flawed as ourselves. Stella, Simon, and Libby straddle the ravine between hip urbanity and soulful vulnerability – each achieving a redemption that gives us hope that we might too.”
--Lisa Gornick, Author of The Peacock Feast and Louisa Meets Bear
"I was truly immersed from page one of With or Without You, Caroline Leavitt's new novel. It should be on the cover of the Indie Next List when it is published. Booksellers and book clubs are going to embrace this novel. Caroline has crafted the perfect storm of intriguing plot, beautiful prose, and characters with whom the reader forms an emotional connection. Having read her entire body of work, it came as no surprise that she has once again struck a literary gold mine. So often art is written about in terms of the artist's soul being transferred onto the canvas. Caroline did a remarkable job of making it truly believable that Stella was able to see into her subject's soul and bring it to life in the art. Sure to be popular with readers interested in art, music, medical drama, and all the book clubs looking for a meaty novel that will spur discussion. I will be recommending this novel to all my friends and look forward to hand selling it in the store.”
Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books