cover image After the End

After the End

Clare Mackintosh. Putnam, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-451-49056-8

Mackintosh veers from the thrillers for which she is known (I Let You Go, etc.) into quieter, but no less captivating, territory. Loving couple and fond parents Max and Pip Adams, who live in London, are devastated when their two-year-old son, Dylan, is diagnosed with a brain tumor. After an operation and the growth of the tumor leave him with a severely diminished quality of life, they must make the difficult decision whether to attempt to prolong his life or allow him to die naturally. When they find that they cannot agree on an answer, the case is taken to a judge to decide. Then, in brief, alternating chapters, Mackintosh imagines how life would proceed for the family and its members under both outcomes—though the imagined futures are perhaps not as different as one might expect. Mackintosh has a workmanlike prose style, and some may feel that she lets her characters off too easily, but this is at its core a novel about hope and recovery from loss, and the author’s dextrous handling of the twin story lines will keep readers rapt. This is tailor-made for book clubs and for fans of Jodi Picoult.[em] (June) [/em]