Pack Up The Moon by Kristan Higgins
Kristan Higgins has this way of guiding you through a story. She introduces you to a whole host of interesting characters, and their seemingly ordinary lives, all the while simultaneously breaking your heart and giving you hope. After reading and loving her last book, Always The Last to Know, I knew I absolutely needed to read her latest, Pack Up The Moon, and I’m so glad I did!
Pack Up The Moon follows the perfect couple, Josh and Lauren, as their world is rocked when Lauren is diagnosed with terminal lung disease and dies. Heartbroken Joshua is inconsolable. But Lauren planned for this. For each month for the twelve months following her death, she wrote Josh a letter. Each letter contains a task for Josh that Lauren thinks will help him move forward. Some tasks are easy, some are more challenging. Josh dutifully follows her requests month after month. But can Josh truly move on after the love of his life dies?
Pack Up The Moon is told in dual timelines. One timeline starts at Lauren’s death and moves forward over the course of a year. Each chapter in this timeline largely focuses on the letter she left for Josh that month. The other timeline starts at their third anniversary and works backward towards when they met. Those chapters start with Lauren writing letters to her dead father as a way to share things with him. I loved the structure of this book. The alternating timelines added so much depth and complexity to the story as well as Lauren and Josh’s relationship.
I absolutely fell in love with Joshua. He’s a biomedical engineer with Autism Spectrum Disorder (previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome). He was so kind and absolutely loved Lauren. It broke my heart watching him grieve over the course of the book.
This was an absolutely beautiful story. It broke my heart many times over, but it also left me feeling hopeful. This wasn’t a binge read for me. I read it over the course of about a week and a half. I couldn’t bring myself to read it all at once because it was too emotional. I highly recommend this to other fans of Kristan Higgins, and anyone in need of a good cry. Fair warning though, it is a tearjerker.
Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the review copy. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Every month, a letter. That’s what Lauren decides to leave her husband when she finds out she’s dying. Each month, she gives Josh a letter containing a task to help him face this first year without her, leading him on a heartrending, beautiful, often humorous journey to find happiness again in this new novel from the New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins.
Joshua and Lauren are the perfect couple. Newly married, they’re wildly in love, each on a successful and rewarding career path. Then Lauren is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
As Lauren’s disease progresses, Joshua struggles to make the most of the time he has left with his wife and to come to terms with his future–a future without the only woman he’s ever loved. He’s so consumed with finding a way to avoid the inevitable ending that he never imagines his life after Lauren.
But Lauren has a plan to keep her husband moving forward. A plan hidden in the letters she leaves him. In those letters, one for every month in the year after her death, Lauren leads Joshua on a journey through pain, anger, and denial. It’s a journey that will take Joshua from his attempt at a dinner party for family and friends to getting rid of their bed…from a visit with a psychic medium to a kiss with a woman who isn’t Lauren. As his grief makes room for laughter and new relationships, Joshua learns Lauren’s most valuable lesson: The path to happiness doesn’t follow a straight line.
Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, this novel from New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins illuminates how life’s greatest joys are often hiding in plain sight.
About the Author
Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 19 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal , People and Booklist. Her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year. Kristan is also a cohost of the Crappy Friends podcast, which discusses the often complex dynamics of female friendships, with her friend and fellow writer, Joss Dey.
The proud descendant of a butcher and a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband. They own several badly behaved pets and are often visited by their entertaining and long-lashed children.