I should have known a novel featuring a hospice nurse would be a heartbreaker. Add the dying professor and a veteran suffering from PTSD after three tours in Iraq. Then, there's the story of World War II and the aftermath. Stephen P. Kieran's The Hummingbird is thought-provoking, and heartbreaking.
Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse who loves her patients and their families. Right now, though, her time with her patients is almost a relief for her. Her husband, Michael, after three tours in Iraq, is no longer the generous, loving man she married. He doesn't sleep well. He gives off energy as he fights to suppress the urge for violence. Deborah sees he's "Lost his innocence. His libido. His ability to control his temper." But, Deborah's belief in her patients may help her relationship with Michael. She believes "Every patient, no matter how sick or impoverished, gives lasting gifts to the person entrusted with his care." Barclay Reed, PhD, and Deborah Birch have gifts to give each other.
From the moment Deborah met Dr. Reed, he challenged her. She welcomes the challenge. "He'd won my heart already, the old coot." His story of the end of his academic career, along with an untold story of the Pacific, Oregon, and World War II, challenges her beliefs. In listening and believing a dying man, Deborah may find the way to help her husband.
Kiernan skillfully combines multiple storylines in a novel that's thought-provoking, sad while filled with hope at the same time. He tells the story of two wars, and two men who dealt with the aftermath. But, it's still a story of a death that the reader knows is coming, as well as the tragedies during wars. Even with the glimpses of hope, The Hummingbird is still a heartbreaking story.
Stephen Kiernan's website is www.stephenkiernan.com
The Hummingbird by Stephen Kiernan. William Morrow. 2015. ISBN 9780062369550 (paperback), 312p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book so I could participate in the book tour.