Life and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Review

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

Book Score: 1

A couple years ago, I decided I wasn’t reading enough women writers. So for about a year, I read nothing but women writers. It was a good experience. I’ve backed off a bit, but I still read a lot of women. So should you.

A few other things to set up this review: I get most of my books from Amazon, I like discovering new writers, and I’m cheap. And if you didn’t know before, Amazon does a crappy job of separating real literary fiction from pulp fiction. This isn’t all bad news. It’s how I ended up finding Liane Moriarty. Not all fiction that sometimes gets labeled as Chick Lit is crap. But some of it…ugh.

All that to say that sometimes I find myself accidentally reading the bad kind of Chick Lit. The Lifetime movie kind of Chick Lit. And Life and Other Near-Death Experiences is one such book.

Libby Miller finds out she has a rare form of cancer. Then her husband of eighteen years comes out as gay. On the same day. FML. Seriously, Pagan could have just called the book that and it would have been a better title.

Libby proceeds to wrestle with mommy issues (her mother died of cancer when Libby was a child) and relationship issues as she decides whether to seek treatment or just let nature take its course. She runs away. A romance ensues. But she comes out of the experience a better person. Of course.

This probably isn’t fair, since I’m clearly not the target audience, but I found myself hoping Libby would just die already at several points along the way. The writing is fine as far as it goes, but the story is beyond manipulative. It’s pure pulp. Just don’t. You know, unless pulp is your thing. Then by all means, enjoy!


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