After the End #loss #pain #familyrelationships #death #cancer #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

Sometimes a book grabs you from the very first page and continues forward in a manner in which you relish every page. Sometimes, however, a book that held so much promise fades as the story continues and you so wish the last part of the book could have been as wonderful as the first.

After the End

Jan’s review

What a nightmare to be told your child is terminal with no hope of recovery. How can you make decisions when every cell in your body doesn’t want to let your precious child die but regardless of the decisions made, your child will die. It’s just a matter of when. What makes a life worth living? Who decides?

Missing You Grief Quotes. QuotesGram

The dilemma of such a heartbreaking decision is one the author and her husband faced  after their infant son had a massive brain hemorrhage. It’s obvious she’s intimately familiar with the subject matter and the first half of the book is powerful and deeply resonates.

Unlike what happened to the author, the fictional couple in this novel don’t agree on how to manage and treat their son’s illness so the courts must intervene and make a decision to continue treatment or provide palliative care and let him go. The author did a magnificent job detailing the emotional and physical toll on everyone when a child is critically ill. It made me think about my own beliefs and wonder what I would do when there is not one “right” choice. I liked how the author brought in the power of the press and social media along with the public’s rush to judgment without knowing all the facts. 

However, I could have done without the Dr’s POV. I didn’t think it added anything relevant to the story as it was more about her personal life, not her medical judgement, and it felt like filler. 

The second half of the book is, as the title suggests, after. After the judge makes a decision, the author explores two different outcomes:  one in which the judge sides with the mother, and one in which the judge sides with the father. It was thought-provoking to examine the ramifications and consequences of either decision.  I’m certain anyone who has made such a heart-wrenching decision has moments of doubt and wondering “what-if”. I had them with my elderly parents and know they would be even stronger when it’s your child.

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From here, the narrative alternates between two alternate realities. I found it difficult to follow at first because the characters were the same, but I soon fell into the rhythm of the story-telling. Unfortunately, as intriguing as the premise is to examine two different outcomes, the story became predictable chick-lit and eye-rolling unbelievable. I would have preferred the story been as nuanced with emotional depth in the last half, as it was in the first half.  Another buddy read with Marialyce, this was a solid 5 star book in the first half, unfortunately downgraded to a 3.

Many thanks to Edelweiss for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Marialyce’s review

So many people, including this author have lost a child. It is a heart wrenching experience that one never truly recovers from. Your heart is broken, your life is empty, and for some the trauma of this breaks apart everything they held dear and loved and such was the case with the protagonists of the book After the End.


Pip and Max are a successful couple. They have a firm marriage and a son they adore. Life seems wonderful until fate deals them a card that is devastating and cruel. For their son, Dylan has cancer of the brain. He is a young child, just on the cusp of experiencing the joys of being loved, of living a wonderful life, and knowing that he had a family who adored him. The diagnosis is a nightmare and although Dylan is operated on, the prognosis is not good and then the worst happens the tumor grows.

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This was, for the first half of the book, one that caused the tears to freely flow as you accompany Pip and Max on this journey through hell. How can they reconcile the love and need for their son when in reality things seem to point to his demise. This part of their story was so well done. You could feel the sorrow, experience the pain, and pray along with them that things would get better. It was truly a journey that many have traveled and it’s one you hope and pray you will never know.


However, when I got to the second half of the story things seemed to fall apart as the story seemed disjointed and some things that occurred just didn’t make sense. It was in this section of the story, that I became disappointed. I wasn’t sure of what the author was trying to say and where she was taking me. Was she trying to say that marriages, even ones overflowing with love, never survive a crisis such as a loss of a child? Was she trying to say that life goes on, but perhaps not in the way you had first envisioned it to be? I am not sure. As the telling jumped from the various scenarios, I found myself sometimes at a loss as to who or what this chapter was about. There were also characters who appeared and while should have been a relevant part of the story really weren’t developed into the tale.


However, the fact that this author could sit down and pen a book like this after the loss of her own son shows great courage and hopefully the writing of this tale was a catharsis for her. I only wish that the second part of this book was as strong and emotionally gripping as the first part of this story.


This was another story Jan and I shared. We came to the same conclusion about this story, and while we so empathized with what the author experienced, we so wished that the second part of this story could have been like the first.

Thanks are extended to edelweiss who forwarded a copy of this book to me.

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10 thoughts on “After the End #loss #pain #familyrelationships #death #cancer #fictionfriends #duoreviews @JanBelisle @absltmom

  1. I can read thrillers, suspense, WWII, but I have a hard time reading about a child with a terminal illness. Great reviews of a tough book to read. Too bad the second half was not as good as the first half. I read in other reviews that the doctor’s POV was not necessary or did not add to the story. Great, honest reviews ladies.

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  2. Great reviews ladies. This sounds like such a heavy read. Hats off to the author for tackling these themes especially given her own loss. Sorry to hear that the second half was kinda disjointed though.

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  3. Great review, Jan and Marialyce! I love the way your points of view complement each other. The first part seems so heartbreaking…I was really sorry to hear that it was written after the author lost her own child.

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  4. Great review, Jan and Marialyce! I have this to read as well but just haven’t been able to yet because of the subject matter. A friend’s daughter, whom I’d known since birth, had to be taken off life support after being declared brain dead following an accidental drowning back in April, and we’ve all been heartbroken since. I’ve not done well with anything about child death, but I hope to read this one down the road. I really enjoyed your reviews and how well they explained the difference between the first and second halves of the novel.

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