Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

 Libby Miller is having a completely crappy day, and even her usual upbeat attitude is not going to help her much.  After receiving a devastating diagnosis, she goes home to tell her husband only to receive more bad news.  It is all too much for her and she decides to leave her stressful job and head for the beaches of Puerto Rico to die.
         These beaches of Vieques hold special meaning for her since her mother (who died from cancer years before) also visited there.  So, while Libby is running from the possibility of chemotherapy and painful treatments, she is trying to reframe the small amount of time she has left on this side of eternity.  Unfortunately, this trip involves distancing herself from her twin brother, her ex-husband, her best friend, and everyone else from her old life.   Instead, she leans on her friendly Puerto Rican landlady and the attractive pilot who brought her to the island.  But deciding to live for the moment cannot keep reality at bay forever, and soon, Libby will have to learn some hard lessons in bravery, honesty, and love.
         While cancer is the entire focus of Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, it is not a depressing book.  It had many snippets of humor, some profound thoughts on life, and a sweet romance.  I found it to be very entertaining—if not unrealistic—in some places.  Though Libby was the patient and so should get to determine the course of her life, some of her decisions are hasty and unkind—which is not at all unrealistic, I am sure, for someone who is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.  Some plot developments, such as the romance with Libby and Shiloh, the pilot, seem a bit implausible and rushed, but they did a great job in lightening the narrative and providing hopeful moments.
         There is not an entirely happy ending here, but Life and Other Near-Death Experiences did provide some great messages and heartwarming moments.  It was a quite enjoyable book and I will be looking for more from Camille Pagan.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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