Book Review: Life and Other Near Death Experiences by Camille Pagan

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So book number 40 (nearly there!) in my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 8 of my holiday reads) is Life and Other Near Death Experiences by Camille Pagan.

‘Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.

With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live—and love—a little longer?’ (Thanks Amazon!)

So Libby is dying, a fact that she finds out at the same time that she discovers a secret her husband has been keeping from her.  In the space of one afternoon, she is forced to rethink everything she has ever believed about her ‘perfect’ life, and as a result she makes a run for it, leaving behind Chicago and embarking on a spontaneous trip to the idyllic tropical island of Vieques in the Caribbean.

Spending time alone (or hiding, from both her husband Tom and her twin brother Paul), Libby is forced to examine her life up until now, including the loss of her mother which clearly had a profound impact upon her.  Whilst on her journey to self-discovery she meet Milagros who teaches her Spanish, and Shiloh, a Puerto Rican pilot who forces her to open herself up in a way she never expected.

As she contemplates death, Libby inadvertently learns how to live, a lesson which we all need from time to time.  Life and Other Near Death Experiences really makes you consider what is important in life, and it makes you explore what is good and what is lacking in your own life as Libby does the same.  Life, death, family, friends and love are all important themes within this novel, and I really enjoyed following these themes throughout the novel.  At times I found Libby to be impossible, but considering the position that she had unexpectedly found herself in, there is little I can say against her.  I enjoyed reading about her, and following her as she made her journey to self-discovery to work out just what she wanted from life in the face of death.

I am more than happy to recommend Life and Other Near Death Experiences – it is hard-hitting in places, Libby is sometimes infuriating and I can confirm that it doesn’t end exactly as you would expect.  It does however deal with a particularly difficult subject – cancer.  This is something that we have all been touched by, whether it be personally or someone we love.  The novel deals with it in a light, sometimes humorous way without taking away the heart wrenching reality of how it affects people when they discover it is now part of their future.  Please do give it a read.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

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