cover image The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments

The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments

Hadley Vlahos. Ballantine, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-49993-1

Vlahos recounts her six-year stint as a hospice nurse in her often-moving debut memoir. When she became pregnant at 19, Vlahos intended to get an abortion, until she reluctantly attended a church service with her mother and was convinced to keep the baby. She pursued a career in nursing to support her son, and after coordinating hospice care for a patient whose scheduled provider flaked, was offered a position as a hospice nurse herself. Sharing experiences that complicated her once-agnostic ideas about death, Vlahos recalls how her supervisor insisted that a dying woman’s visions of her deceased sister were not hallucinations but evidence that she was “crossing over.” Another nurse claimed that dying people all “see the same thing” (their own deceased relatives) irrespective of “race, religion, or any other factor you could think of.” Vlahos eventually witnesses similar occurrences with her own patients, and dubs the “powerful and peaceful” nonphysical space that lies between this world and “whatever comes next” the “in-between.” Nonreligious readers may not glean much from this account, which veers into firmly faith-based territory, but Vlahos is a pleasant and earnest guide to the dying process. Readers anxious about their loved ones’ end-of-life experiences will find comfort here. Agent: Noah Ballard, Verve Talent and Literary. (June)