‘After the End’ by Clare Mackintosh

Clare Macintosh is a favourite go-to author for domestic thrillers.  I Let You Go and I See You  among others, were easy to read and kept me on the edge of my seat. So I was quick to read a copy of her latest novel, but it is completely different. This emotional book is still fiction but it gets personal–it is based on her own experience of losing a child.

The premise is heart breaking. Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers–unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors have no choice but to make the parents choose between painful treatments to prolong his life or allow him to die naturally. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. The matter goes to court and what happens afterwards takes up the second half of the novel.

The suspense and intrigue is in how the tragedy plays out and affects people and their relationships. It reminded me of Jodi Picoult’s bestseller My Sister’s Keeper. The first half was beautifully written and I thought this would be a great novel that would be relatable and redemptive for parents in these types of nightmare situations. But with all due respect to the author for writing from the heart, I found the second half repetitive, pointless, overlong and there were confusing bits that I never understood. The narrative arc felt weak and I almost bailed on it many times. As for parents who actually have to make such an impossible choice, I think this would be a very hard and triggering book to read because of what happens, but I can’t tell you why without giving spoilers.

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