“After the End” – Clare Mackintosh

“After the End” isn’t a book I would normally reach out to myself. Somehow the name & the cover of the book screamed out kitsch, cliché & chick flick to me. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance, having stumbled across it through a friend of a friend on instagram, saying that it was extremely emotional. My incredibly low expectations have been more than exceeded & I was glad to have it as a quick read in between some non-fiction books.

You will first need to bear through the cringe-worthy names of the main characters, Pip & Max (why did both of them have to have monosyllabic names??!!) but once you get over that, you can finally dive into the story. Without spoiling & revealing too much, it’s about a couple going through the difficult situation of having a sick child & being obliged to take critical decisions about his future.

This was what finally drew me into purchasing the book, the topic of morality around decisions being made for those who don’t have their own voice appealing to me a lot. Here’s where the author simply excelled! I had my own very clear & definite opinion just about 10 pages in but she managed to make me reflect on it, as far as even changing it as the book advanced. It sensitised you into considering the two different sides to a story, leading you there in a way of a self-realisation rather than forcing you into only one single truth.

It was clear from the very beginning on that there won’t be anything exceptional about the style. It was very simple & it surved its purpose of telling the story without any additional frills. In this sense, I wasn’t highlighting any particular passages while reading but it was rather the structure of the book that absolutely fascinated me. I don’t want to take away too much but I’ll just say that the twist in the middle of the book is really something special. I don’t remember the last time or if I even ever read anything like it before.

Even though it wasn’t as emotional of a read for me as I was expecting it to be (the emotions experienced towards children simply being something foreign to me), that fact didn’t take away from the quality of the story. The details about the relationship between the couple was what tugged at my heartstrings more, since it’s closer to what I have already experienced myself. “After the End” was written in a captivating way, so that I flashed through the 375 pages in just about 2 days. You could really feel how dedicated the author was to the story, it sounded believable & you really felt like she knew what she was talking about. I guess that I’ll forever stay traumatised by the novel “Vox” by Christina Dalcher because this book made me think of it once again. In “Vox”, the author who has never had children herself writes about a mother & her relationships with her kids, which all ends up sounding like a complete cliché. Claire Mackintosh manages to luckily create the exact opposite of that mood. It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise when you find out that she has personally lived through a story similar to the one told in “After the End”.

If you’re willing to go beyond judging the book by its name & its cover, I’d suggest giving “After the End” a chance. You’ll be in for a little adventure of an addictive read, which you’d finish in the speed of lightning.

“After the End” – Clare Mackintosh

★★★★☆ (4/5)

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