After the End by Clare Mackintosh is a captivating, poignant novel.
Pip and Max Adams have been happily married for several years when an unimaginable diagnosis turns their world upside side. Their 2 year old son Dylan has a brain tumour and he has recently undergone surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately an unexpected side effect of chemo lands him paediatric intensive care and his doctor Leila Khalili presents them with a grim prognosis for recovery.
At first both Pip and Max are in agreement that they will do anything to prolong Dylan’s life. Max feverishly researches treatments for his son while Pip is more concerned with Dylan’s quality of life. While informing Leila of their decision, no one is more stunned than Pip when she disagrees with Max’s choice to seek further treatment. Max then embarks on a public campaign to raise money for his legal expenses and to help offset medical costs if he wins the case. Pip is quietly shattered as she spends as much time as possible with Dylan. With their son’s future in a judge’s hands, what will happen to their family in the aftermath?
Pip is a flight attendant who re-adjusted her career in order to be at home with Dylan as much as possible. She suffers a fair amount of guilt that she did not seek medical attention for her son sooner. Never imagining the outcome of Dylan’s treatment, she has been given compassionate leave from work so she can be with him as much as possible now he is in hospital. Pip never wavers from her heartbreaking decision to not prolong Dylan’s life and she is stunned by her husband’s vitriol.
Max relocated to the UK from the US after marrying Pip. His job requires quite a bit of travel and when home, he works long hours so he has not spent as much time with Dylan as he would like. Despite the family’s dire situation, he has no choice but to return to work after his son is transferred to intensive care. Never once thinking that he and Pip would be on opposite sides of Dylan’s care, Max thrusts the family into the spotlight as he pursues his case to get his son further treatment.
After the End is an emotionally compelling novel with a clever storyline and sympathetic characters who must make an heartrending choice about their young son. After the courtroom scene, Clare Mackintosh chooses an innovative storytelling device that is initially disconcerting. However, it does not take long to become completely absorbed in the gripping story that is unfolding. Despite the somber subject matter, this deeply affecting novel comes to a hopeful and bittersweet conclusion. A very unique novel that is utterly fascinating and impossible to put down. Highly recommend.