Book Review: The Lives Between Us by Theresa Rizzo

How far would you go to save the one you love?

Reporter Skylar Kendall has run from commitment all her life, pushing people away before they leave her, until her niece worms her way into Skye’s heart and settles in tight. Skye relaxes into a career she enjoys and relishes being a doting aunt.

Then her niece becomes gravely ill. Unable to bear yet another loss, Skye is determined to find a cure, but the girl’s only hope lies in the embryonic stem cell therapy Michigan Senator Edward Hastings repeatedly opposes. When Skye fails to find alternative treatment in time, she vows to end the senator’s political career.

Curious about the woman behind the scathing articles on his best friend, Mark Dutton pursues Skye. Dating Mark gives her access to Hastings’s life and secrets that would launch Skye's career and satisfy her need for retribution… Only she hadn’t counted on falling in love.

Can she avenge the lives lost to politics at the expense of her new love and friends?

Release Date: July 1, 2015
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Reviewed By: Kelli

I adore Theresa Rizzo's writing, and The Lives Between Us was a great reminder of why she is on my auto-buy list.  This book was so emotional and engrossing.  I loved every minute of it!

I love contemporary fiction novels that are more than just a love story.  And The Lives Between Us was SO much more than a love story (although the romance was an added bonus).  Theresa Rizzo tackles tough subjects in her novels, and I admire her for that.  It's not easy or safe to take on topics like embryonic stem cells, but she does it with aplomb.  I love that I learn something from her books.  I can't say that about many fiction authors, so I consider that high praise.  I could tell from the way Rizzo wrote so authoritatively about stem cells that she'd done an enormous amount of research on the subject.  I appreciate that!  It would be easier to skim over the 'hard stuff', but Rizzo tackles it and explains things to the reader without sounding didactic.

To be perfectly honest, I've never spent a lot of time thinking about the difference between embryonic and cord blood stem cells.  I had the mindset of: it's all stem cells, right?  Boy, was I wrong.  There is a huge difference and the politics of using embryonic stem cells for treatment of diseases and injuries are heavy and twisted. 

This compelling story line on its own would have been enough to make The Lives Between Us a great read.  But Rizzo went even further and added a love story, a mystery, and a little bit of politics.  She brought it all together for an amazing read.  I loved that the story took me into the life of a senator.  I had never really considered the pull they must feel, the constant battle between their commitment to their constituents and family.  Rizzo's characterization made her story even more intense for me.

Some of you might be thinking: I'm pro-life and I don't want to read about embryonic stem cells.  Or you might be thinking, I'm pro-choice and I don't want to read about cord blood stem cells.  I'm here to tell you that this book is not about pro-life versus pro-choice.  It's about how we handle devastating circumstances, the hard things in life.  It's about the choices we make for our family, and how far we would go for the ones we love.  It's about reconciling your long-held beliefs with new challenges to those beliefs.  And, mostly, it's about love: the love between friends, family members, and partners. 

Rizzo very honestly portrays the daily life of people with terminal conditions and also people with spinal cord injuries.  The Lives Between Us was an honest, heartbreaking look into what life is like for people suffering in those situations, as well as their family members and caregivers.  I loved that she didn't shy away from the truth about what it's like have one of those conditions.  It made the story so authentic and emotional.
I really loved everything about this powerful book, and highly recommend it.

Author Bio

Theresa Rizzo is a bestselling, award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. 
Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty-two years. She’s raised four wonderful children who are now scattered across the country.

Theresa's debut book, He Belongs to Me, won the 2014 National Indie Excellence Award for romance and the 2014 Readers Crown Award for Mainstream Women’s Fiction and was a finalist in the General Fiction Category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards.  

Find Theresa on the web at, or connect with her on Facebook, twitter or and Goodreads.

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  1. Thanks Kelli,
    Wow, high praise! I'm so very pleased that you "got " the story and what I was trying to achieve. It was really tough to try and write an unbiased piece--btw, while writing, my own opinion kept flip-flopping between pro-ESC and pro-life, and I still haven't come down with a firm opinion--other than I hope to God I NEVER have to face such heartrending decisions!
    It kind of makes me raise an eyebrow when a reader claims that I clearly show a bias, since I still can't make up my own mind. Thanks for reading, and for the lovely review!

    1. You're so welcome, Theresa! It was truly my pleasure.


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