Wreck: A Novel

Wreck: A Novel
Age Range
Release Date
April 16, 2019
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Set on the shores of Lake Superior, Wreck follows high school junior Tobin Oliver as she navigates her father’s diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Steve’s life as a paramedic and a runner comes to an abrupt halt just as Tobin is preparing her application for a scholarship to art school. With the help of Steve’s personal care assistant (and family friend) Ike, Tobin attends to both her photography and to Steve as his brain unexpectedly fails right along with his body.

Tobin struggles to find a “normal” life, especially as Steve makes choices about how his own will end, and though she fights hard, Tobin comes to realize that respecting her father’s decision is the ultimate act of love.

Editor review

1 review
unique read about dealing with a life-ending diagnosis
Overall rating
Writing Style
WRECK is a heart-wrenching story about a teenage girl on the brink of college as she discovers her father's life-altering diagnosis and the subsequent fallout. Tobin dreams of being a photographer and following her creative passions- much like her father did when he was young, writing a couple books before becoming a paramedic and settling down in Duluth. It has been just Tobin and her father, Steve, for a long time after her mother left when she was five.

After her father breaks a wrist, Tobin finds out there is something bigger going on- Steve has ALS and will die. The question is really when. Tobin has a lot of difficulty accepting this about her father, and that he will not be around forever, or even for her college graduation, wedding, or grandkids. However, she must. The story follows her along this journey from diagnosis until his death with lots of heartfelt discussions and every bit as wrecking as the title suggests.

What I loved: Tobin and her father have a fantastic relationship, and I loved watching them together and seeing how they deal with ALS. The portrayal of the disease- both physical and mental- and the ramifications for family was also really beautifully conveyed. The book also includes discussions about euthanasia that can be quite powerful. The addition of Tobin's writing and photography only adds to the overall beauty of the book, allowing us to get even deeper into her mind. And, I must say, I loved the dad jokes.

Final verdict: This is not an easy read, but it is certainly heartfelt and powerful. The ending is quite sad but beautiful at the same time. I would recommend for anyone looking for a unique read about death, major illness/ALS, and father-daughter relationships.
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