Originally published: 25 June 2019
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Published by: Sphere
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 2-5 June 2019
This is the story of Max, Pip and their son Dylan. Dylan is 3 years old and has a rare form of brain cancer. He has had an operation and chemo which has shrunk the tumour but for several months has been desperately ill after complications, breathing only with the aid of a ventilator in the paediatric intensive care unit. When Leila, the consultant looking after Dylan, breaks the news to Max and Pippa that his tumour has grown and his condition is terminal, it is the end of their world. She advises against further treatment which may prolong his life, telling them even with treatment he would be severely disabled.
However, Max and Pip do not agree on the medical treatment of their son. Max believes that they should do anything to give Dylan as much of a chance of life as possible, taking him to America to try proton beam therapy and being sure that his life should be prolonged, whatever the quality. Pip agrees with the doctors – she has sat with him daily through his treatments and believes he should be allowed to die. This heart-breaking disagreement is told from both parent’s point of view and my goodness what an emotional book this is!
Clare Mackintosh is well known for her thrillers – I loved both I Let You Go and I See You. This is such a different book from her and it is extraordinary! I was lucky enough to receive a surprise advanced readers copy through the post and I was thrilled. Divided into two books, the ARC is entitled “Before” and “After”. “Before” tells the story of Dylan, Pip and Max up to the point of the court case and the decision the judge makes. “After” tells the story of the family after the court case and is oh so clever! I literally gasped when I realised what Mackintosh had done and couldn’t get through it quickly enough.
The author gives life to Max and Pip and I truly felt I was living their story with them, thinking about it as I went to sleep and then again when I woke up. Their decision is an impossible one to make and you can’t help but place yourself in their shoes and think about what you would do.
A powerful book, this is a stunning achievement. Knowing now that the author has been through something similar, makes it a brave decision to tell this story. I was so emotional reading this, that I did wonder why I put myself through it! Despite having the ARC, this is one that I will be buying for my forever shelf.
Many thanks to Millie and Kirsteen at Little Brown for sending me a copy for review.
About the author:
With over 2 million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.
Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club, and together have been translated into over thirty-five languages.
Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.