The premise for this novel is that a law has been passed that enables terminally ill patients to be euthanised if they wish. The programme is still in its early days, but at the Mercy Hospital Evan is one of the nurses who assist in these suicides. Evan’s childhood was touched by the suicide of his father and a mother who moved them around a lot so they didn’t get attached to places or people, attributes that make Evan the ideal nurse for this job. However, Evan gets frustrated with the limitations of his job, not being able to do more and breaks the rules. The book follows Evan and how the job effects his life and the lives of those he helps and ultimately can he help his mother die when her health deteriorates.
The author, Steven Amsterdam, is a palliative care nurse and has first hand experience of end of life care. The subject of this book is very emotive and divisive and the author deals with it with honesty, compassion and humanity. The book shows not only how euthanasia effects the patient, but also their family and friends, and the nurses who assist them. Evan has relationship issues, probably due to his childhood and his mother keeping him at arms length. He doesn’t like getting too close to people; he has an unconventional love life being the third person in a relationship with another gay couple. This means he can keep his distance, and he dooesn’t tell them what he does for a living.
This novel is not all doom and gloom, there is a lot of dark humour and a feeling of positivity to some of the stories. It makes the reader consider the meaning of life and our freedom to make choices at the end of our lives. This would be a good book for a book club as there are many topics for discussion.