REVIEW: After the End by Clare Mackintosh

After the End.jpgTitle: After the End by Clare Mackintosh
Pages: 384
Published by: Sphere
Publication date: 25th June 2019
Genre: Contemporary
Format: Hardback
Amazon UK – Waterstones

Synopsis:

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.

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.

My review:

I have truly loved Clare’s other novels so when I saw this in the library I was very excited to read it; however, I didn’t realise just how different it was to her other books. She’s one of my favourite crime authors so I was very surprised to find out this was a contemporary and how emotional and heart-wrenching the story was.

After The End follows the story of Max, Pip and their two year old son Dylan. Dylan has been in hospital receiving treatment for a brain tumour but after not being able to fully remove the tumour, the doctors discover Dylan has irreparable brain damage. He will not be able to walk or talk, nor will he be able to communicate his needs and Max and Pip are put in a difficult situation – should they take him abroad for treatment which will possibly prolong his life, but not cure him, or provide him with palliative care until he dies? Max and Pip aren’t able to come to a decision so it’s taken to the courts to decide and the story takes on two very different and unexpected turns after that.

The story is mainly told from the point of view of Pip and Max but leading up to the court case, we also have the point of view of Dylan’s doctor, Dr. Khalili, who works long and difficult hours for the children she treats. I loved her added chapters because it really gave me a perspective on what these situations are like not just for the parents but also the doctors who treat their children. When these stories are in the news, it’s the parents who we always sympathise with and admittedly it hasn’t once crossed my mind how cases like this affect the nurses and the doctors. They have to maintain a professional stand but it must be difficult to not grieve for the children who are suffering and who they aren’t able to save. Dr. Khalili’s chapters made me appreciate all the doctors and nurses who sacrifice so much of their personal lives to make sure their patients are well cared for.

This must have required such extensive research on Clare’s part as there’s so much medical terminology used but she explains it brilliantly and at no point did I feel confused or not able to follow the story because of that. Admittedly, I was a little confused with the chapters following the court verdict but once I’d read a couple more chapters it started to make sense and was such an ingenious way to answer the “What if?” questions that plagued the characters throughout.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away because I think it’s best to go in blind for this one, you’ll appreciate it much more if you do. All I will say is that it’s a very emotional read and I can’t even imagine what I’d decide if I was put in this situation. It’s such a difficult decision to make for any parent and I thought Clare told the story brilliantly. The emotion and tension from the characters pours out of the pages and it made me appreciate Clare’s writing even more. I’m not a fan of contemporary but this gripped me right from the start and it was an unforgettable story.

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