Friday, August 19, 2011

The Choice by Maria V. Ciletti

Publisher:             Harrington Park Press

What do you do when you finally figure out that you've been living a lie all of your life? And how do you fix it without hurting the people who have loved you? This is the theme of The Choice, Maria Ciletti's first book.

Mina Thomas has a comfortable life. She enjoys being a nurse at a retirement home and taking care of the residents. She and her husband, Sean, are best friends and have a stable marriage. Mina realizes that there isn't any passion on her part for the relationship, but she loves Sean, he's a good man and they are comfortable together. She doesn't realize she should expect any more until she meets a new nurse at the home.

Regan Martin causes feelings in Mina that she never knew existed. As the women work together, they begin a friendship that has ramifications that neither of them expects. When Sean is sent away by his job to a training session that lasts several weeks, the women have a chance to become closer and then intimate. Mina discovers emotions she's never had with Sean and she realizes what has been missing from her life, but she also experiences greater turmoil than she has ever felt.

How does a person change a pattern of her life that she has always followed and to a way that many in society condemn? How can she face her family with this revelation? What will this mean to her career if it becomes known? Can she depend on Regan who, while participating in the situation, has made it clear that she has no intention of declaring herself a lesbian and living that lifestyle in the open? And the biggest issue of all, how can she do this to Sean? She still loves him and he loves her without realizing there is a problem. How can she destroy what they've spent years developing? What right does she have to disrupt his happiness and hurt someone that she still cares deeply for? Does she continue to live a satisfactory, but passionless life, or does she go after what her emotions tell her she needs? This is the choice that Mina is faced with making. The answer, like real life, is not that simple or obvious.

Ciletti has created an intense tale of a woman going through a situation that many people find themselves in. After living their lives in a conventional way and repressing their inner feelings, they reach the point where they can no longer deny their emotions and their homosexuality. Accepting this reality can be fraught with conflicting decisions though. It's not that easy to stand up in the face of society and live an alternative lifestyle, especially when it means hurting and/or losing people you really care about. Ciletti uses Mina to show how difficult that process can be for everyone involved. The characters are well drawn and the reader will feel the turmoil that Mina goes through as she tries to decide what choice is correct for her.  

The Choice is an excellent first novel. People who don't understand how wrenching this situation can be for a person need to read this book.

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