The Easy Way Out [review]

The Easy Way Out - Steven Amsterdam

Title: The Easy Way Out
Author: Steven Amsterdam
Publisher: Quercus Books

[Synopsis]

If you could help someone in pain, would you?

Evan is a nurse, a suicide assistant. His job is legal . . . just. He’s 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 legality, his own morality and the best intentions of those closest to him, discovering that his own path will be neither quick nor painless.

He knows what he has to do.

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Steven Amsterdam challenges readers to face the most taboo and heartbreaking of dilemmas. Would you help someone end their life?

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[My Review]

The Easy Way Out is certainly a unique novel; it addresses serious issues and makes you really think but also written in a lighter tone and/ or with a good dash of humour at some points – but not all. This humour is sometimes quite subtle, but it’s definitely there and adds a sort of playful feeling to the novel. However it should be noted that, due to the topic of this novel, it’s definitely not an easy, carefree read. There were some emotional parts which really made me consider how I’d feel in many of the character’s situations – Evan, his mum Viv, the people he assists with and their families – and what I’d expect from my family and friends if I were the one who desperately wanted to die, for whatever reason, and euthanasia was legal here.

Evan is quite a strange character – conflicted at times but with a really good heart, and a quite unusual relationship with both Lon and Simon. I thought the dynamics between the three of them were really heartfelt at times and liked them as a group. I have to say that Evan’s mum I found harder to like, just because it felt like she was making things harder unnecessarily for Evan in the way she behaved sometimes – but then none of us know how we’d actually behave if we were in her situation.

I found that some of the exchanges between characters and incidents that take place have an almost dream-like quality to them, in that they don’t seem quite rooted in the real world. Now I’m aware that this novel seems to be set in Australia (I think!) and euthanasia definitely isn’t legal there last time I checked, so the whole novel can’t be rooted in the real world as such anyway, but there was something else about it that gave it a bit of a surreal touch; an almost dream-like quality.

As it centres on such a controversial topic, I feel the author is qualified to write about this subject as he has a background in palliative care, and must really understand what it’s like to care for people whose quality of life is so poor that they don’t want to carry on. This book was very interesting to read and learn more about this side of illness that we don’t necessarily think about every day. I always like reading novels that take me out of my comfort zone a little bit -keeps things interesting.

Ultimately I felt that The Easy Way Out was a thought-provoking, intriguing read and a great novel from Steven Amsterdam.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Quercus Books and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

The Easy Way Out will be released in hardback and ebook on 3 November.

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