AN NPR BEST BOOK OF 2016
I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.
Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”
And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.
In this “dark and compelling … unputdownable” (Booklist, starred review) literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel “packs a big psychological punch with a twisty story line and an ending that will leave readers breathless” (Library Journal, starred review).
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This is a beautiful and moving book about family, fragility, and compassion.
For readers of Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and Will Schwalbe, the moving, inspiring story of a young husband and father who, when diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of thirty-three, sets out to build a legacy for his infant son.
I can’t make you feel what it’s like to be a young, dumb, naïve thirty-year-old sitting in the back of a walk-in clinic waiting to be handed what is essentially a death sentence any more than i can show you what it feels like to have a husband or father or child who’s dying and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. i can only describe to you how i feel today. angry. at peace. scared. grateful. a giant, spiky, flowering heart-shaped bouquet of contradictions.
Layton Reid was a globe-trotting, risk-taking, sunshine-addicted bachelor—then came a melanoma diagnosis. Cancer startled him out of his arrested development—he returned home to Halifax to work as a wedding photographer—and remission launched him into a new, passionate life as a husband and father-to-be. When the melanoma returned, now at Stage IV, Layton and his family put all their stock into a punishing alternative therapy, hoping for a cure. This Is Not the End of Me recounts Layton’s three-year journey as he tried desperately to stay alive for his young son, Finn, and then found purpose in preparing Finn for a world without him.
With incredible intimacy, grit, and empathy, reporter Dakshana Bascaramurty casts an unsentimental eye on who her good friend was: his effervescence, his twisted wit, his anger, his vulnerability. Interweaving Layton’s own reflections—his diaries written for Finn, his letters to his wife, Candace, and his public journal—she paints a keenly observed portrait of Layton’s remarkable evolution. In detailing the ugly, surprising, and occasionally funny ways in which Layton and his family faced his mortality, the book offers an unflinching look at how a person dies, and how we might build a legacy in our information-saturated age.
Powerful and unvarnished, This is Not the End of Me is about someone who didn’t get a very happy ending, but learned to squeeze as much life as possible from his final days.
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