Saturday, 16 May 2020

After The End by Clare Macintosh

This audio book was gifted to me by Tandem Collective. 

Pip and Max Adams have a marriage that all would envy. They are so in sync, they finish each other's sentences. But when their young son, Dylan develops a terminal illness, their world and their marriage starts to fall apart. As they have such different views on how their son should be medically treated, they find themselves in court, on opposing sides where a judge and jury will now  decide Dylan's fate. 
This was my first audio book organised as a listen along by Tandem Collective. I don't know if it was the fact that I was listening to this book, but I became so emotionally involved in it. I actually felt like I knew this couple and the doctor who was trying to help them come to a decision. The way the author writes emotions is so powerful and expressive,  that she brought the characters to life. 
This is one of the most heartbreaking books I've ever read and after hearing the author's notes at the end, it must have been extremely difficult for her to write. I actually feel quite broken after finishing it, but also uplifted as the author has shown that life continues after the death of child. You never forget, but eventually it gets easier to cope.  
The first half of the book is told from three alternating perspectives. We hear Max and Pip's side of the story, as well as Leila's, who is Dylan's doctor. By adding Leila's point of view, it  gives the plot balance, allowing you to see the story from an outsider's point of view as Leila doesn't have to make the final decision. 
Imagine you could look into the future and see how an event would turn out from both options available to you. Well this book allows you to actually do that. In the second half of the book, the story moves into a sliding doors narrative as the court's decision is about to be finalised.  As a reader, you get to hear both sides of the story. Max and Pip each show how how their lives would've turned out, should either of them have won the court case. I've never seen this kind of narrative used before and it works brilliantly, especially in a situation where normally you wouldn't have a choice. 
I've never read anything by Clare Macintosh before and I understand from others that this book is very different from her previous ones, but I'm now desperate to read more by this author. This book is definitely going in my Top Ten Books of the year. I enjoyed it so much, I started listening to it again, once I'd finished. I'm not quite ready to let these characters go. 
From a writing perspective, I think it is a perfect book to use as an example when teaching narrative patterns, characterisation and how to write emotions. 
Clare Macintosh is a master at characterisation!

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