By: Clare Mackintosh
Published Year: 2019
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion of this novel.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They're best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can't agree. They each want a different future for their son.
What if they could have both?
A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.
I read Mackintosh’s previous 3 thriller/mystery novels and enjoyed them. I was very excited to see her branch out into something different. The subject matter sounded a bit intense but it still piqued my curiosity. The cover didn’t make a great first impressions but I do like the bright yellow of it.
What I thought
You know those books that are just so woah when you read them you feel like you have to just sit and stare at the wall after you finish? This was that kind of book.
Pip and Max are parents to their 2 year old son Dylan who is in the hospital for treatment of a medulloblastoma. When the original treatment plan doesn’t work the way they expected, Max and Pip are faced with the terrible decision of how they want their son’s future to play out. When they both decide they want a different outcome, how do they move forward?
This book is intense. The subject matter is heavy and serious but also heartwarming. It felt to me like it has Me Before You potential. A serious story that’s not going to be easy to read, but will resonate with a lot of people.
One of the reasons I think this book was and will be so successful is that Mackintosh lived through something similar herself. She shared that the reason she wrote a story that was different from her previous three novels is because she felt a story like this needed to be shared. Mackintosh lost her son years ago, and she wondered what it would have been like if she and her husband hadn’t agreed on courses of treatment and even worse, if their choices had been played out in the public eye.
The story is told mostly between alternating perspectives of Max and Pip, but there are also chapters told from the perspective of Dylan’s doctor. The first half of the story I struggled with slightly. It’s just a lot to deal with and I felt like I was not in the mood to read such serious subject matter. This was even with Mackintosh pacing the story so well. Then the second half hit and bam! I flew through it.
I don’t want to say there was a twist at the second half, because I feel like when you say that you read a story waiting for the author to pull the wool over your eyes and then you start reading into a million details and not enjoying the story. but I will say that there is a major shift in the story about halfway through that I did not expect. From that point forward I was completely sucked into the story.
Without sharing too much, the way that the story flows throughout this book is so well done. It had a lot of subtle life lessons in it that I appreciated. I liked that with what happened in the story there were certain things that happened no matter the path that got them there. As someone who is going through a lot of life changes, it was reassuring to read. That comfort of your life is meant to go a certain way and will end up there regardless is one I appreciate.