On Living

Kerry Egan. Riverhead, $24 (224p) ISBN 978-1-59463-481-9
In her sophomore outing, Egan (Fumbling: A Journey of Love, Adventure and Renewal on the Camino de Santiago) masters the art of imparting critical life advice without coming off as preachy—a difficult feat. The author, a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School, works as an end-of-life chaplain—a profession sometimes belittled by others (a woman at her book club asks her, “You consider this work?”), yet helpful to those who need a healing catharsis in the limited time left to them, such as a mother who bore her son out of wedlock and lied to him about the identity of his father, and a father who blames himself for his four-year-old son’s death from meningitis. Egan is no stranger to sorrow herself, having experienced a psychotic break when doctors used ketamine during her emergency C-section, after her epidural anesthesia failed. Most of all, Egan’s empathetic tone is a comfort for both the healthy and the dying—whom, she opines, are not polar opposites. “People don’t somehow transform drastically into something else when they’re dying,” she says. “They’re just doing something you haven’t done yet.” Egan also counsels that things are never as they appear, that there are layers to every decision, good and bad. As the title suggests, this is not just a book about dying. It’s one that will inspire readers to make the most of every day. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/08/2016
Release date: 10/25/2016
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-241-29730-8
Hardcover - 978-1-4104-9594-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-0235-9
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