Book Review: After the End by Claire Mackintosh

My Rating: 4/5

The Blurb: 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.

My Review: I felt the beginning of this book wholeheartedly. The pain of having to make one of the most heartbreaking decisions about the life of your own child broke my heart into a milliion tiny pieces….so many tissues scattered around me on the couch….and I nearly put the book down being a little to close to home. There was a time when my own son, who shares the name of the child in the book, was a frequent visitor to hospital; subjected to a barrage of tests and under the care of way too many specialists to be comfortable. Thankfully after being given multiple incorrect and gut wrenching diagnosies not much eventuated…except that I now have a severe mistrust of the medical profession.

My heart broke for both Max and Pip; knowing that whichever decision was made, there would inevitably be unimaginable grief and loss. And what if….as in my son’s case…the doctors were wrong?

As I read I found myself very definitely taking sides; siding with Pip as a mum; understanding her need to be strong for her son; protecting him from suffering.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel bad for Max; but I abhorred the way he dealt with everything; leaving his wife when they needed each other most; bringing in the media and petitioning against his wife in the public eye. He made me so angry; having what felt like a tantrum because he wasn’t getting his own way.

Maybe Pip is a better person than me but I could never have forgiven him and that is why I was so shocked at the end. I just sat there staring blankly into space; dazed and confused.

Things I Liked:

  • realistic hospital scenes;
  • the courtroom drama;
  • seeing the consequences of the opposing court rulings;
  • Pip – the unconditional love she had for her son; how hard she tried to make things work; how she struggled but ultimately got her life back together;
  • the romantic and caring Lars;
  • being offered Dylan’s doctor, Leila’s, viewpoint as well as Max and Pip’s; seeing her life outside of her work and getting to know her as a person however briefly.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Max – the way he acted throughout the court process and beyond; the destructive way he dealt with his pain; his inability to support his wife and let her support him…best friends??…I don’t think so;
  • Max’s interferring and unhelpful mother;
  • That ending.

Summary: Ending notwithstanding, this is definitly worth a read. I did love it all the way to almost the last page…could have been 5/5 except for that final unseen twist.