Ben is having a hard time dealing with his wife's death, and he plans to commit suicide. Dr. Ben Givens is one of the finest heart surgeons in Seattle. Still reeling from the death of his wife Rachel he is dying of colon cancer. Unwilling to put his daughter Renee and grandson Chris through nine months of anguish watching him die he decides to commit suicide.
He plans a hunting trip and on the final leg of the journey he plans to shoot himself in the neck. He reasons that the corner will think the death a suicide and will know when he performs his autopsy that it was the cancer that was killing him first. The bullet wound a secondary course of action.
An unlikely string events take place that change Ben's itinerary. He crashes his car into a tree and his rescuers are a young couple, hikers Brian and Christine. They offer a ride to a motel and help Ben clean and dress his wounds.
He befriends an apple picker while looking for work (he's a surgeon on a spiritual journey). A friend of the apple picker has a girlfriend in the final stages of pregnancy. Ben delivers the baby in a tiny cabin. It is a difficult birth. Her shoulder is caught in the birth canal and her umbilical cord is twisted.
He meets a veterinarian just when his dog Rex is shot. She helps him to administer surgery on the badly wounded dog. Ben elects to share his illness with the doctor and his plans for suicide.
Ben makes it back to the town where he was born and meets a woman who knew his father and brother. She asks Ben a lot of questions about his family that get him to thinking about his life and what it has meant. He decides to hold off on the suicide after examining the people who he came into contact with during the previous forty-eight hours. Bringing life into the world touched him the most. Meeting Christine and Brian had reminded him of the early years with Rachel and he was touched by the couple's sincerity. Nothing compared to seeing the little girl nursing in her mother's arms. Ben wants to live for as many days as he's granted. He returns home and calls his grandson.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that Ben didn't take his own life.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Ben realized that he wasn't the only one hurting and that his grandson needed him.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked that Ben showed some tenacity after the first quarter of the book.