One Last Thing Before I Go, Jonathan Tropper

oneI had just finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (which was very good), when I began to read One Last Thing Before I Go. Uhoh, I thought, I am going to need tissues again, but no, even though the themes are really serious, it is done with such a light hand and so much humor, that it was easy to read, and each time I put it down, I couldn’t wait to reach for it again. Often there was light-hearted dialogue between the characters, even when they were discussing whether or not a person should choose death over the possibility of life, but it was always cleverly done and apropos, and the dialogue about the important issues, never seemed dismissive or glib. When you got right down to it, the book covered really crucial ideas, at opposite ends of life’s spectrum: marriage, divorce, birth and death, but they narrative was never heavy handed. These very difficult decisions were handled with honesty and clarity.
The main character doesn’t want to have life-saving surgery, preferring to die because he feels he has wasted his life, is a failure with no hope for change, and his daughter is contemplating an abortion because she failed to use good judgment and got caught unawares. Two characters are facing monumental decisions from different vantage points, but both concern life and death in their own particular way.
There were lesser themes as well, in the book, and these were equally as important. The consequences of divorce on children, husbands and wives, are drastically different from each other, and these were explored deftly. The opportunity to have a do-over was examined, as well as the joy of second chances and their possibilities. These issues were handled beautifully by the author, so that they were not political, but rather, they were family decisions, life cycle choices, shared by the group, not made by the bewildered individual alone no matter how hard that individual ran from the assistance offered.
Not all of the characters were developed fully, but the necessary ones were skillfully constructed so that they were totally believable. They were human, with all the frailties; they laugh, they cry, they shout, they feel.  Silver’s father is a rabbi and he chooses to take his 40+ year old son, as a gate crasher, to all of the life cycle events he officiates over, in order to influence his choice of life or death. Silver’s daughter, Casey, appears with her own problems, but she cannot abandon the father she “hates” when he also has troubles to surmount, and she tries to rekindle some kind of a relationship with him so they both can work out solutions to their dilemmas.  This entire family unites to try to forgive and help this “seeming deadbeat”, who never got over his 15 minutes of rock star fame, who never tried to make another alternate life for himself. Even his ex-wife does not want him to give up. This man has seemingly done nothing to deserve the love and affection of his friends and family, but they surround him with their hopefulness and concern. (This was the only unreal, fairytale part of the book, for we all know people who have failed and have been rejected without support, who did not have such forgiving relationships, but wouldn’t it be nice if this was the way it always turned out, if help was always at the ready?)
The terrible impact of divorce on the father is really clarified and explored. Most people consider the devastating effects on the children, on the wife who must bear the burden of the child rearing more fully, but they don’t consider the financial burden on the man, the loneliness, the sense of failure, the shame and humiliation he feels when another man takes his place in his home and the lives of his children, the sense of loss that he faces every time he enters his empty new home since his family now lives where he used to dwell with them. He is suddenly completely isolated and is, most often, the enemy.
One drawback in the book, for me, was the ending. I wanted closure and there really was none. Perhaps the author’s purpose was to make the reader wonder about the choices we make in life without fully contemplating the consequences. Perhaps it was to make the reader wonder about the importance of hope and encouragement in our lives. Perhaps it was to make us contemplate the value of forgiveness. Perhaps it was to make us consider the inviolability of both life and death. The reader will think about these questions when he turns the last page.

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About omasvoice

Who am I? I am you. I am everyone out there who loves to read and discuss and voice an opinion!
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books for Adults, Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

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