So this is weird to me. This book definitely meets somewhat being slightly classified as a mystery novel based on how the author tells the story and the question that is left open in the end. But it’s not really a mystery novel. So I wondered at it being more a women’s fiction book. And then a friend and I got into that a bit. So instead of The Book Gods post, you get Blue’s comments with a friend while out drinking prosecco last night post.
OB’s friend: Hey what’s that? [she’s wondering at the big yellow book in my purse.]
OB: A book I finished today.
OB’s friend: Was it good?
OB: Oh yeah it was so good. Problem is though that I may not be able to count it towards something.
OB’s friend: What?
[This is when I explained Halloween Book Bingo, the squares, showed her my BL post, I told her the plot of the book after she swore up and down she would never read it since she just likes to read memoirs or true crime books and then she made squealing noises, etc.]
OB: So I am wondering if I can call it towards “New Release.” I think it’s more Women’s Fiction.
OB’s Friend: I hate that.
OB: Hate what?
OB’s Friend: I hate that when a book written by an woman author doesn’t “fit” that it just gets denoted to “women’s fiction” when there’s no such thing as “men’s fiction.” Based on what you said it’s a mystery and heck, I would say even a thriller cause of the ending too. By the way which ending would you choose?
[This is when we got into the plot of the book and what would we do and actually discussing some of our family’s past medical issues.]
OB: You’re right though. I don’t know why I do that. I think it’s because this book to me doesn’t have murders or anything and that to me is part of the mystery genre. It’s definitely not a mystery novel. I also can’t really call this a thriller. It’s not chick lit, it’s not a romance, and it’s not Gothic or Horror. It is contemporary though.
OB’s Friend: Honestly this should be place in contemporary drama based on [redacted.]I do agree it can’t fit mystery or thriller and I wonder why Goodreads has it tagged like that? I don’t use that site.
[My asides on the many way in which Goodreads drives me up the wall.]
OB: Yeah, I have no idea and I don’t even know how to ask to change tags on that site. Either way I am going to just post the review and not mark this down for a square.
Anyway, that’s a long and drawn out way of me saying that I am not going to use this book for “New Release” square and will get something else to read for that.
So “After the End” follows happily married couple, Max and Pip. They both love each other, but right now there lives are taken up by carrying for their 2 year old son Dylan who has a brain tumor. Though they both are focused on when they can take him home, they are thrown for a loop when their doctor tells them the treatment isn’t working and that they have to choose whether to continue forward with a medical treatment that they don’t know if it would prolong his life or not, or do they want to stop what they are currently doing and let him go. Either way, the doctors don’t believe either avenue is going to suddenly turn Dylan into a healthy three year old boy. When Max and Pip for the first time ever disagree about what to do with Dylan’s treatment, the book then follows them “after” the courts decide what comes next. And from there the book follows two potential paths for them and ends in 2019.
I really really liked all of the characters and thought that Mackintosh did a beautiful job of showcasing everyone’s points of views. I have to say though I leaned more on Pip’s choice in the end. And no spoilers on what path she wanted to choose either. That said, I wanted to hold Max too. I thought at times both of them were right and both of them were wrong. Having to decide what to do as a family and then as a parent is a pretty big ask and I liked how Mackintosh just highlights what comes next.
For the first half of the book Mackintosh follows Max and Pip and then their son’s doctor, Leila Khalili. Doing that allows us to get engrossed into Max and Pip’s story, but we also get to see Leila’s home life and how she feels separate from her family and friends due to her profession. She has a mentor at her work that she goes to, but she is also starting to perhaps feel something more for as well. She has questions about that as well as what path she wants to choose next.
The book then breaks into two paths at a key decision point and then it’s like a choose your own adventure. What path did each parent choose? And from there, what does that future look like? We don’t loop back in Doctor Khalili until the end and once again we are left with a huge question.
The writing I thought was very good. Mackintosh captures Pip and Max’s voices and choices through the years quite well. I like that some of the same people show up no matter the path, but slightly changed/altered. The flow works going back and forth between the three characters and then just between Max and Pip. Mackintosh does a great job of calling out who is “speaking” with chapter headings, but after a while though I didn’t even notice them because I was used to the characters “voices” and got who was speaking right away.
The setting of the book is mostly in London but also in Chicago. I can’t say though that I got a great sense of either country. Max and Pip are rightfully caught up in their son’s lives so don’t pay much attention to surroundings it seems. In Doctor Khalili’s sections you have her commenting on her home, the food she’s eating and her friends, but once again I didn’t get London from that.
The ending was a gut punch when you realize what is going on though. I have to say that you are left wondering well what path? What choice? What is the final decision? Who should you root for here? Or maybe don’t root at all since you don’t know if what we have just read would come to pass or not.
So the main reason why I am marking this down as 4 stars is that it’s not a thriller, suspense, or mystery book.