My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 7 days
Publisher - Harper
Pages - 534
Blurb from Goodreads
Shep Knacker has long saved for "the Afterlife," an idyllic retreat in the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Exasperated that his wife, Glynis, has concocted endless excuses why it's never the right time to go, Shep finally announces he's leaving for a Tanzanian island, with or without her. Yet Glynis has some news of her own: she's deathly ill. Shep numbly puts his dream aside, while his nest egg is steadily devastated by staggering bills that their health insurance only partially covers. Astonishingly, illness not only strains their marriage but saves it.
From acclaimed "New York Times" bestselling author Lionel Shriver comes a searing, ruthlessly honest novel. Brimming with unexpected tenderness and dry humor, it presses the question: How much is one life worth?
Shep Knacker is our main character along with his wife Glynis and his best friend Jackson. Shep has sold up his family business in the hopes of going to "the Afterlife" traveling to and living in his one chosen place on earth with his loved ones. Years on and he has decided this is the day he is leaving whether his family join him or not, he is going. Sadly his wife has some life changing news and Shep will be staying to help her face her diagnosis and pay for the health care she requires.
The book gives a bleak look at how much health care in the US can cost both between Glynis and his friends little girls care, she has FD, Familial dysautonomia. The book has a lot of medical information both on Glynis's condition and Jackson's daughter. I found this really interesting but have to say the book isn't purely about cost or the medical system however it is a large theme throughout the story.
Shep is a fairly simple chap, has done well financially and wants to move to a more civilized country. His nature and duties keep him home to look after his wife. He is a doormat, used by just about everyone in his life and it isn't long in the story before we find out and see how little he is respected. The characters are not very nice people at all, I actually hated his sister who is one of the most vilest creatures I have ever read about.
I am never sure how I feel about this writer, I read we need to talk about Kevin, started off not impressed then couldn't put it down. This one captured my interest, however had the medical side not been in it I am not sure I would have found it as engaging as I did. It is a book that certainly makes you think and I wanted to see it out to the end. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again but won't be rushing out to buy all her work.