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Een onmogelijke keuze by Clare Mackintosh
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Een onmogelijke keuze (2019)

by Clare Mackintosh, Jan Smit

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17618114,636 (3.91)6
"The breathtaking, emotional new novel from Clare Mackintosh. A story about impossible choices. A story about the strength and fragility of love"--
Member:jankaldenbach
Title:Een onmogelijke keuze
Authors:Clare Mackintosh
Other authors:Jan Smit
Info:Utrecht De Fontein 2019
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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After the End by Clare Mackintosh (2019)

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» See also 6 mentions

English (17)  Dutch (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Charming British accents and idioms helped to make this a lovely listen, though the content was really challenging. Pip and Max Adams are a "perfect" couple with a 3-yr-old son, Dylan -- the perfect family. Except Dylan has inoperable cancer. And Pip and Max differ on the treatment. The hospital feels Dylan should be removed from life support and offered palliative care. Pip agrees. Max disagrees and thinks Dylan should be offered some new experimental treatment in the States (where he is from), which might extend his life for a couple years, though it will not improve his quality of life. Because they cannot agree, it goes to the courts and also becomes a media sensation. When the verdict is announced, the story diverges into 2 paths, following each possible outcome to its completion, almost like a 'choose-your-own-adventure' except better writing. Both outcomes show the strain and difficulty the decision has placed on the couple - both together and individually. Both show the unasked for opinions of so many others who are impacted (or not). Both outcomes show the "when a door is shut, a window opens" concept, providing opportunities that neither could have foreseen. Traveling this road not traveled with each of them is pretty well done by the author - I never felt manipulated or that she oversimplified the situation. Her note at the end explains it all and really added to my appreciation of this excellent story. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
This would be a great book club book! I'm not sure how I feel about some of the author's choices, but I would love to talk about it with someone else who's read it. ( )
  KimMeyer | Sep 8, 2020 |
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. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
When their young son is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, Max and Pip must make an impossible choice: seek further treatment that might extend his life or let him go. As they become further at odds with each other, and the world begins to tune in to their story, a decision is made, but what happens after the end is just the beginning of another journey for this young couple.

As a parent, especially that of young children, this book made me cry. I had to stop several times during the first half because reading through tears is impossible. The love that Max and Pip have for their son is overwhelming, but perfectly understandable, especially as their toddler is quickly losing a battle. It hurt my heart to read, but the strength Max and Pip showed together and separately made me keep reading.

The first half was heartbreakingly beautiful. It encompasses everything that happens before "the end." Max and Pip are seen caring for their son while he's in the hospital and then grappling with the decision the hospital is forcing on them about what to do about his future care. We're given the story from Max's and Pip's points of view as well as their son's doctor, Leila. It was a bit of a slow going as the only major events were Max and Pip in the hospital with their son and the trial to determine how care should proceed for their son. There wasn't much action or movement; it felt more like a gradual buildup to what comes after "the end."

The second half moved much quicker. It follows the events after the trial, detailing whether Max had won or if Pip had won, and told from their respective points of view. At first, it was a little confusing to follow with the alternating narratives and different timelines, but it became easier to follow, though I sometimes still had to remind myself of which person went where, and stopping in the middle of a chapter was a no-no for me because I then couldn't remember whose narrative I was reading. There was a lot of overlap between the two stories, but they eventually took separate journeys that became easier to follow. It was intriguing to see how two different decisions could have so many similar features, like the introduction of the same people despite different trial outcomes, and still end differently. I suppose two choices from the same starting point with the same people will lead them on different journeys but still have enough similarities because it involves the same start point and same involved parties.

I really loved that this book never gave a definitive answer of what the court chose. Instead, it gave both Max and Pip the room to explore what their lives would be like if one or the other had won and still leaves the reader satisfied. This is great for any reader who ever wondered if a character's different choice would have taken the story in a different direction. As strange as it was to read sometimes, it was oddly satisfying and I feel as though I don't need to know what the real decision was, because I still got both stories and can decide for myself which path I favored and believe the court went with. It's like Schrodinger's cat: both beliefs that the cat is alive or dead are true until the chamber the cat is in is opened to reveal the truth. Unless we're given the real decision, both paths could, and are, true.

What I didn't like as much were how Leila and Max were characterized and how rushed the ending to Pip's story was. Leila was portrayed as the professional, caring doctor, but she made key mistakes that she should not have. As someone who has worked in healthcare-related positions, I know patient privacy is of utmost importance, so Leila's mistakes really bothered me. Max was also troublesome for me as he's an American who moved to the U.K. for Pip. It's explained that he's been there so long that he's become more British than American. I get that, but, when he returned to the States, he still felt overwhelmingly British, even after he'd been there for a long stretch of time. It was a little tough to get past and I would have appreciated seeing him return to his roots a little more. Lastly, Max's story wrapped up really well, but Pip's seemed to jump a bit and, while it mostly makes sense and there were hints, it feels like it was smacked in my face and I was left reeling a bit.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. A few things bothered me, but the story of a couple with a huge love for their son and each other was beautifully done. It's both the story of a family struggling to remain intact and the story of two people traveling two different paths.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy. All opinions are my own.

Blog: The Lily Cafe
Blog link: thelilycafe.wordpress.com
Publication on blog: 6/21/19
  The_Lily_Cafe | Jun 28, 2020 |
When their young son is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, Max and Pip must make an impossible choice: seek further treatment that might extend his life or let him go. As they become further at odds with each other, and the world begins to tune in to their story, a decision is made, but what happens after the end is just the beginning of another journey for this young couple.

As a parent, especially that of young children, this book made me cry. I had to stop several times during the first half because reading through tears is impossible. The love that Max and Pip have for their son is overwhelming, but perfectly understandable, especially as their toddler is quickly losing a battle. It hurt my heart to read, but the strength Max and Pip showed together and separately made me keep reading.

The first half was heartbreakingly beautiful. It encompasses everything that happens before “the end.” Max and Pip are seen caring for their son while he’s in the hospital and then grappling with the decision the hospital is forcing on them about what to do about his future care. We’re given the story from Max’s and Pip’s points of view as well as their son’s doctor, Leila. It was a bit of a slow going as the only major events were Max and Pip in the hospital with their son and the trial to determine how care should proceed for their son. There wasn’t much action or movement; it felt more like a gradual buildup to what comes after “the end.”

The second half moved much quicker. It follows the events after the trial, detailing whether Max had won or if Pip had won, and told from their respective points of view. At first, it was a little confusing to follow with the alternating narratives and different timelines, but it became easier to follow, though I sometimes still had to remind myself of which person went where, and stopping in the middle of a chapter was a no-no for me because I then couldn’t remember whose narrative I was reading. There was a lot of overlap between the two stories, but they eventually took separate journeys that became easier to follow. It was intriguing to see how two different decisions could have so many similar features, like the introduction of the same people despite different trial outcomes, and still end differently. I suppose two choices from the same starting point with the same people will lead them on different journeys but still have enough similarities because it involves the same start point and same involved parties.

I really loved that this book never gave a definitive answer of what the court chose. Instead, it gave both Max and Pip the room to explore what their lives would be like if one or the other had won and still leaves the reader satisfied. This is great for any reader who ever wondered if a character’s different choice would have taken the story in a different direction. As strange as it was to read sometimes, it was oddly satisfying and I feel as though I don’t need to know what the real decision was, because I still got both stories and can decide for myself which path I favored and believe the court went with. It’s like Schrodinger’s cat: both beliefs that the cat is alive or dead are true until the chamber the cat is in is opened to reveal the truth. Unless we’re given the real decision, both paths could, and are, true.

What I didn’t like as much were how Leila and Max were characterized and how rushed the ending to Pip’s story was. Leila was portrayed as the professional, caring doctor, but she made key mistakes that she should not have. As someone who has worked in healthcare-related positions, I know patient privacy is of utmost importance, so Leila’s mistakes really bothered me. Max was also troublesome for me as he’s an American who moved to the U.K. for Pip. It’s explained that he’s been there so long that he’s become more British than American. I get that, but, when he returned to the States, he still felt overwhelmingly British, even after he’d been there for a long stretch of time. It was a little tough to get past and I would have appreciated seeing him return to his roots a little more. Lastly, Max’s story wrapped up really well, but Pip’s seemed to jump a bit and, while it mostly makes sense and there were hints, it feels like it was smacked in my face and I was left reeling a bit.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. A few things bothered me, but the story of a couple with a huge love for their son and each other was beautifully done. It’s both the story of a family struggling to remain intact and the story of two people traveling two different paths.



Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy. All opinions are my own. ( )
  The_Lily_Cafe | Jun 28, 2020 |
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Epigraph
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far I could

                 -- ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

              ---ROBERT FROST
Dedication
Voor het NICU-team van het John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.
Dank jullie wel.
To the NICU team at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.
                                     Thank you.
First words
Proloog:

Leile kijkt de rechtzaal rond.
Dylan was zes uur oud toen ik een plekje achter zijn linkeroor ontdekte, zo groot als een duimafdruk
Prologue:
Leila looks around the courtroom.
Dylan was six hours old when I noticed a mark behind his left ear the size of a thumbprint.
Quotations
However long you spend with someone, however well you think you know them, they can still be a stranger to you.
Sometimes you only know for certain if you've made the right decision once you've made it. Either it slides smoothly into place as though it were always meant to be there, or it sits, spiky and misshapen, in the corners of your mind.
Turns out you can hate what someone's doing, yet still love them so much it hurts.
You cannot feel grief without first feeling love,...
Sometimes it's easier to talk to someone you hardly know.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"The breathtaking, emotional new novel from Clare Mackintosh. A story about impossible choices. A story about the strength and fragility of love"--

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