I’ll Never Leave You begins with a woman frantically searching for a missing book. What is this book? And why is it so important to her?
The reader is transported back in time to Anna’s childhood, her loving world as a baby, and the shock of her mother’s early death. It was then that Anna’s world changes drastically and an abusive father and stepmother raise her. In addition to her emotional scars, Anna reveals her physical ones as well. She suffers from a rare, genetic disease called amelogenesis imperfecta, in which her teeth never develop enamel. As a result, they appear yellow and rotten. She imagines what it would be like to have normal teeth and wonders who would love someone who looks like this?
Anna meets Dan on a street corner in Greenwich, CT and this young man is drawn to Anna – despite the fact that she is many years his junior. Dan can see past Anna’s shy exterior, raggedy clothes, and discolored teeth. Their bond grows in secret, until Anna is old enough to introduce Dan to her family. In him, an accomplished woodworker who has built his own boat and loves the sea, she finally finds someone who loves her unconditionally and makes her feel safe. Like Anna, Dan has lost his mother at a young age.
The two are separated during World War II when Dan must serve overseas and, as their unique connection deepens, he writes her an 18-page book that promises, “I'll never leave you.” Anna holds this book as her most cherished possession during this separation and after their marriage during one of his leaves from the service. During his time away, Dan’s love for Anna intensifies and his faith in their union gets him through the horrors of war. At home, thanks to his love, Anna is a more confident woman and, for the first time, takes the initiative to find someone to help her with her chronic, often-painful oral disease. She surprises him on his return home with a new set of teeth, which were painstakingly created, after numerous surgeries, by a warm-hearted dentist.
Throughout this story, an aging Anna continues to search for her missing book. By the end, her ailing heart makes breathing difficult – but she will not stop looking. Will she find it before she leaves this Earth? On her deathbed, Dan whispers one thing in her ear over and over again: “I'll never leave you.” Anna and Dan’s story is an uplifting example of unconditional love and faith bringing two people together – and the resilience of their love in the face of all life throws at them. In this day and age, it is a rare story that will inspire readers to look beyond superficial appearances and into the hearts of others.