Review: A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser

Title: A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Jessica Strawser’s A Million Reasons Why is “a fascinating foray into the questions we are most afraid to ask” (Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author)–the story of two women who discover a bond between them that will change both their lives forever.

When two strangers are linked by a mail-in DNA test, it’s an answered prayer—that is, for one half sister. For the other, it will dismantle everything she knows to be true.

But as they step into the unfamiliar realm of sisterhood, the roles will reverse in ways no one could have foreseen.

Caroline lives a full, happy life—thriving career, three feisty children, enviable marriage, and a close-knit extended family. She couldn’t have scripted it better. Except for one thing:

She’s about to discover her fundamental beliefs about them all are wrong.

Sela lives a life in shades of gray, suffering from irreversible kidney failure. Her marriage crumbled in the wake of her illness. Her beloved mother, always her closest friend, unexpectedly passed away. She refuses to be defined by her grief, but still, she worries what will happen to her two-year-old son if she doesn’t find a donor match in time.

She’s the only one who knows Caroline is her half sister and may also be her best hope for a future. But Sela’s world isn’t as clear-cut as it appears—and one misstep could destroy it all.


A Million Reasons Why by Jessica Strawser is a heartfelt novel that is thought-provoking.

Caroline and Walt Porter are happily married with three children under the age of ten.  They are both only children and their parents are a big part of their lives. Caroline works as an event planner and both parents juggle child care duties. When Caroline receives an email from Sela Bell, a woman claiming to be her half-sister, their world is completely upended. Her parents, Fred and Hannah, are shocked at the revelation and their once solid marriage is soon on shaky ground.  As they traverse this unknown territory, Caroline discovers information that leaves her angry and wondering “what might have been”.

With her parents trying to pretend Sela does not exist, Caroline tentatively begins a correspondence with her newfound sibling. They are both careful with the details they share but they soon progress to chatting on the phone. Caroline is delighted to learn she has a nephew, two-year-old Brody. Walt, on the other hand, is suspicious of his new found sister in law’s motive in reaching out to his wife. Caroline’s insistence on getting to know Sela begins to drive a wedge between them that worsens after learning the truth about her sister’s health.

Sela is separated from her husband Doug and works from home as a graphic designer. She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) during her pregnancy with Brody. She and Doug are living apart but delaying their divorce because she would lose her health insurance.  Getting to know Caroline helps fill a void left by the unexpected death of her mother Rebecca. Sela has another reason for reaching out to her sister, but she is very hesitant to reveal her secrets to Caroline.

A Million Reasons Why is a captivating family-centric novel. Caroline has always been happy with Walt but new details about a man from her past have her questioning if she has made the right choices. Walt is very protective of his wife and his fears could prevent her making a critical decision that also affects someone else. Sela is very conflicted about following through with the reason she contacted Caroline.  The storyline is engaging with subject matter that is well-researched. With a stunning plot twist, Jessica Strawser brings this fraught novel to a surprising conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this informative story to readers of the genre.

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Filed under A Million Reasons Why, Contemporary, Jessica Strawser, Rated B+, St Martin's Press, Women's Fiction

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