In Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan, we are introduced to Libby Miller, an optimist at heart, but now a woman ravaged by devastation. Her husband drops her on the same day she finds out she has cancer, and suddenly life is no longer so rosy. In her indomitable way she chooses her own destiny and elects to deny treatment and begin a life of living in the Caribbean, a dream of existence.
With nothing to lose she finds that she is unable to escape her past. Her ex, and also her twin brother, continue to interrupt her tropical fun, but it is the encounter with a man that throws her world into a tailspin. What is it about challenging the fates that sets the senses on fire, and creates feeling that have been long buried? Can she risk the treatments required to keep her life on track for just a chance to love and live a bit longer. Leaving the challenge and her dreams she returns home, only to find that dreams are not so easy to dislodge.
Pagan takes us into the depth and despair of disease, and the heartache of discovery. Betrayal and pain, as well as love and romance, are threaded through Libby’s rocky path of discovery. The interaction between characters is hard, humorous, sad, and at times just plain funny. The decisions are those meant to be made privately, yet we follow them with voyeuristic intent.
If you enjoy a good solid read, one with both ends of the spectrum, sadness and dismay, to romance and beauty you will want this work for your library. Pagan takes what could be tragedy and creates a lovely story of hope and living.
This would be a great book for a reading club or discussion group. The decisions and questions raised would create a great deal of dialogue.