Today I finally share my thoughts on After The End by Clare Mackintosh. I’ve had this on my TBR for far too long so knew I needed to make a determined effort to push it to the top. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
Powerful, uplifting and full of hope, AFTER THE END is the most moving book you’ll read this year – from number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh
Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they’re facing the most important decision of their lives – and they don’t agree.
With the consequences of an impossible choice threatening to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.
But anything can happen after the end . . .
If you have come here looking for Clare Mackintosh’s usual psychological thrillers, then you are probably going to be a little bit surprised. This is very, very different from anything you have read by the author before, but no less enthralling. This is a tale packed with emotion, with impossible choices and with tragedy, but also beset with a sense of hope.
This is the story of Max and Pip, parents to two year old Dylan who has received a life limiting diagnosis. They are faced with an impossible decision, one which will change all of their lives for ever. As husband and wife, they have always stood together, and know each other inside out. As parents they are divided and find they cannot agree on what is best for their son. If they choose one course of treatment, they have possibly only weeks left with. the centre of their world. If they choose the other, there is a chance that will have longer together, but at what cost. Their inability to agree with the Doctors sees them face a court case that will ultimately decide all of their fates.
This book is so complex and yet so simple. This is a story of a family. Of two parents forced to make a heartbreaking and nigh on impossible decision. That alone tugs at the emotions enough, Clare Mackintosh manages to kick this whole tragedy up a notch from the point at which the case goes to court. The first half of the novel builds the scene, allows readers into Max and Pip’s world as they struggle to cope with the changes to their lives and the impact Dylan’s hospital treatment and ultimate diagnosis has upon them and their marriage. We see them as a family, learn of their past, of how happy they were. See all the tragedy and heartbreak of the Paediatric ICU, as well as some of the good news stories and the internal jealousy they bring, all of his captured with heart-wrenching authenticity on the page. See how love turns to bitterness as Max and Pip struggle to find common ground in how to do best by Dylan, and hear the various testimony about what is truly in the best interests of their child.
And it is at this point that the author has played a blinder, taking readers down a ‘Sliding Doors’ style path and allowing readers to picture the future for the family depending on which way the court decision goes. Both options are heartbreaking. Both lead to loss, pain, recriminations and strain. But then there is so much more besides. You will think you know, that you can predict what will happen, but you’d probably be wrong. Both roads are winding, undulating, and either way Max and Pip face hurdles that seem almost insurmountable, ones that will make you take pause and wonder how you would react in the same situation. How would you react if you faced the choices that Max and Pip are forced to make?
And yet, they story is not as bleak as you may think. There is real sense of hope in spite of all the loss. Yes, you will shed a tear. It’s near impossible not to given the nature of the story. Told from the points of view of Max, Pip, and Dylan’s doctor, Leila, Clare Mackintosh has written this book from a point of experience, bringing a real sense of authenticity to the tale but without making it into a simple tragedy. it is a beautiful book, one which I felt slightly detached from never having been a parent, but not so much that I couldn’t imagine the pain of making that choice. Couldn’t feel the angst that seeps from the page in the early stages of the book, or the sense of new beginnings that ultimately figures into the latter half of the book. What is clear is that there really is no right or wrong decision, only the decision that you make.
Beautiful, tragic, poignant and also uplifting, this is an emotional tale that takes readers on an unforgettable journey. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award winning author of four Sunday Times bestselling novels. Her first three novels were all Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Translated into forty languages, her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, have been New York Times and international bestsellers and have spent a combined total of 50 weeks in the Sunday Times bestseller chart. Clare lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.