Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Life And Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan
Don't get in a comparison match with Libby Miller for the worst day ever. Libby visits her doctor and finds out that the tumor she just had removed was not benign as he expected, but instead is a fast-growing aggressive cancer. He estimates that she has six months. When she goes home to be comforted by her husband, Tom, whom she has loved since high school, he blurts out the news that he is in therapy because he is pretty sure he is gay.
Reeling from the news, Libby is not sure what to do. Her mother died of cancer when she and her twin brother, Paul, were ten, and she is determined not to put her brother and father through that misery again. She decides she will not do treatment, but will instead live for as long as she feels healthy, then end things before they get bad. She divorces Tom, sells her furniture and apartment, then flies off to Puerto Rico after her father tells her that he and her mother visited there and it was the happiest time of their lives.
While in the Caribbean, she meets several people who start to change her mind. Her landlord, Milagros, is a vibrant woman in her sixties with a unique view on life. Shiloh, the pilot who flew her charter to the island, becomes a lover and friend. Each encourages her to fight for her life and when Paul flies down, he makes the third person who is determined to change Libby's mind. Will she give up to spare her friends and family the agony of watching her fight, or do her best to beat the cancer?
Camille Pagan has created a heroine in Libby whom readers will not soon forget. As a cancer survivor, I was very hesitant to read this book, but it is utterly positive and charming and leaves the reader with much to think about. What do we owe those who surround us and are we ever better to be self-centered? This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in relationships.