After the End, by Clare Mackintosh, is a heart wrenching read. I was worried when I started the novel that I would find it too sad and depressing and have to quit – but the way Mackintosh writes is so compelling that I couldn’t stop until I made it to the end.
The book tells the story of Pip and Max – their toddler son, Dylan, has had surgery and treatments for cancer and has a terminal diagnosis. Dr. Leila Khalili is also a key figure in the story. She has been treating Dylan for a year and cares very deeply for her patient and for his parents. In most cases, I would find it too difficult to read about such a sick child. But Dylan is sedated in the story – the tragic progression of his illness is more a prequel – this story shows how his parents love him and try to decide what is “best” for him. The first half of the story has Pip and Max as a united couple, both in their marriage and in Dylan’s treatment. The second half of the story has them at complete opposite ends – they have different opinions on what the doctors should do – and their case ends up in court. At times, the second half is confusing, but still really riveting, as it shows what happens ‘after the end.’
After the End reminded me of a Jodi Picoult novel. It was well written and the characters were likeable and flawed, just as we all are. If you do read it – let me know what you think of the ending!