Sent to me by Riverrun Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 26/07/17
Publisher: Riverrun Books
Format: Paperback, 272pp
Summed up in a word: Euthanasia
EVAN IS A SUICIDE ASSISTANT. HIS JOB IS LEGAL – JUST.
Evan is the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it.
Evan’s friends don’t know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn’t know what he’s up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble ahead.
As he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against the limits of the law – and his own morality. And with Viv increasingly unwell, his love life complicated, to say the least, Evan begins to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes.
It may sound a bit dark but I love a good existential crisis. This novel contemplates the biggest one of them all, Death. Being made to consider the hardest aspects of life is one of the reasons I enjoy reading so much and The Easy Way Out is engineered to provoke these thoughts in a meaningful way. Evan’s story is incredibly complicated. Evan lives in the grey area of life both professionally and personally. Having a job that is centred around legal assisted suicide would be tough for anyone. That said, if you could help someone escape a painful death, would you?
The Easy Way Out is an emotional, human and morally challenging novel experience. Evan is just about managing to keep death at an arms length, but with his mother’s health in decline due to Parkinson’s disease, he has to question whether he could help her die. This thought process sparks a deeper chain of questions around Evan’s own life and how he chooses to live it. Who will be there for him when the time comes.
The Easy Way Out takes the reader on a journey through the more challenging aspects of humanity. Evan is part of an experimental program that allows people who qualify to participate in an assisted suicide. Each patient that comes to the program brings with them emotion, wisdom, fear and gratitude. I was deeply moved by the suicide sections of the novel and the rawness of the patients reactions.
Evan was a brilliant character to bring this story together. Deeply conflicted for many reasons, Evan has never put down roots because of his mother’s carefree approach to life. His relationship with his adventurous but ill mother is just one of the many stories told within these pages. TEWO is focused on a subject that we all have to relate to but this novel in particular may not be for everyone. I do recommend it to those who are comfortable dealing with harsh realities. There are themes that not all readers will want connect with such as death, suicide, old age, graphic sex and mental illness.
Steven Amsterdam has written a honest, dark humoured and raw novel that helps abolish modern day taboos. It is certainly worth your time and money. I am interested to see if SA approaches any other difficult and human subjects in his future novels.
About Steven Amsterdam
Steven Amsterdam is a writer and palliative care nurse. Originally from New York City, he now lives in Melbourne. His most recent novel about assisted suicide, The Easy Way Out, has enjoyed critical acclaim in both the UK and Australia, and has been long-listed for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His first book Things We Didn’t See Coming was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. His second book, What the Family Needed was longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Picture taken from his personal website: www.stevenamsterdam.com/bio/