06 April, 2014

Book Review: So Much for That

From Goodreads: Shep Knacker has long saved for "the Afterlife," an idyllic retreat in the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Exasperated that his wife, Glynis, has concocted endless excuses why it's never the right time to go, Shep finally announces he's leaving for a Tanzanian island, with or without her. Yet Glynis has some news of her own: she's deathly ill. Shep numbly puts his dream aside, while his nest egg is steadily devastated by staggering bills that their health insurance only partially covers. Astonishingly, illness not only strains their marriage but saves it.
From acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Lionel Shriver comes a searing, ruthlessly honest novel. Brimming with unexpected tenderness and dry humor, it presses the question: How much is one life worth?

Thoughts: Lionel Shriver is one of those authors that makes you uncomfortable. Her subject matters are not pretty and she doesn't sugar coat her stories at all. However I find them compelling and hard to put down. In So Much for That, we follow the story of Shep, a man who is all ready to leave his life for a simpler one - something he has planned and saved for for years. It all comes crashing down when not only does his wife get a cancer diagnosis, they discover their health insurance will in no way cover all the costs. Suddenly his nest egg starts shrinking, and fast.
To tell you the truth, Shep annoyed the hell out of me. His inability to say no to people was, at times, infuriating and nauseating. I wanted to shout at him to grow a back bone!
And really the book is pretty depressing. Along with Shep and Glynis' gruelling battle with cancer, Shep's best friend Jackson has a daughter with a rare genetic disorder which will lead to an early death and a marriage badly damaged by a not so good decision. There are a lot of people in various amounts of pain in this book.
But it is worth hanging on for the end. Suddenly in the last 50 pages in turns from being this dark, depressing tale to one of love, light and joy. And Shriver manages to do it without you feeling like you have been cheated or lied to. I ended the book with a smile on my face and that I did not expect.