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The Life You Longed For

The Life You Longed For

A Novel

  • reading group guide
When every mother's worst nightmare becomes Grace's reality, she must examine her entire life -- from the wrong choices to the right mistakes.

Grace's son Jack is a miracle. At three years old, he's fighting a mysterious, deadly disease that his doctors predicted would kill him as a baby. Even though it was determined to be mitochondrial disease, the little-known illness remains a mystery to medicine. Grace has sat by his bedside every minute he has been in the hospital, questioned every diagnosis, every medicine -- even poring over medical journals and books at home late into the night. To the world, Grace's fierce dedication is the sole reason for her son's survival. But someone suspects that perhaps Jack's disease is not what it seems.

When an allegation of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is leveled against Grace, she begins to live in constant suspicion of everyone -- from the doctors and nurses surrounding her son in the hospital to her own husband. Who could possibly think that she has been purposely making her son ill to gain attention for herself?

Although her husband believes their life is exactly as it seems to the outside world, Grace knows differently. She is harboring a secret -- the adulterous affair she's having with her first love. But perhaps her biggest betrayal of all is her shameful uncertainty about whether she's chosen the right path, the right husband, the right life.

In this compelling and heartbreaking novel, critically acclaimed author Maribeth Fischer addresses how the choices we made yesterday can affect everything that lies before us.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416539162 | 
  • March 2007
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Reading Group Guide

The Life You Longed For By Maribeth Fischer
"...she began wondering about her own decisions, and about the shadow life of choices not made that trailed behind the life she lived now."
Grace, an epidemiologist, wife, and mother of three, spends most of her time fighting for the life of her youngest son, Jack, who suffers from mitochondrial disease -- a chronic, genetic disorder that occurs when the mitochondria of the cell fails to produce enough energy for cell or organ function. Adored by family and friends for her courage and commitment, Grace, however, is not a saint. She is having an affair with a man she abandoned twenty years ago, a man who offers her a glimpse into the life she didn't choose.
Just when Jack needs his mother the most, a new enemy confronts the family. Grace is accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a form of child abuse in which the mother makes her own child sick in order to gain attention. Afraid she is the victim of a modern-day witch-hunt, Grace arms herself with knowledge and wages war against the two medical mysteries -- all the while trying to shield a secret that could destroy her family.
"A strong new voice in women's fiction" (Publishers Weekly), Maribeth Fischer has crafted both a suspenseful medical drama and a thoughtful piece on the true meaning of survival.
Discussion Questions
1. Prior to reading this novel, were you aware of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy? If so, how has see more

About the Author

Maribeth Fischer
Photo Credit:

Maribeth Fischer

Maribeth Fischer has a M.F.A. in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University and a B.A. from Iowa State University. A former creative writing instructor, Fischer has been awarded the Pushcart Prize, and her first novel, The Language of Good-bye, received the Virginia Commonwealth University Award for a First Novel. She also acts as the executive director of Writers at the Beach, a biannual writers' conference, and as the president of the Rehoboth Beach Writers' Guild. Fischer lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

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