Blurb from Amazon
Everybody likes Andrew. But they don’t really know him.
They know what he’s told them – that he’s happily married with two kids. Living the kind of life that’s either so boring it’s true, or so perfect it’s a lie . . .
Peggy arrives in Andrew’s life in a burst of kindness and possibility. For the first time in ages, Andrew feels alive again. So now that he has everything to lose, can he risk it all and tell Peggy the truth?
A big-hearted story about love, loneliness, and the importance of taking a chance when we feel we have the most to lose.
- Suicide attempt
This book has shaken me to my core. But in the best way. It was nothing like I expected it to be from the blurb but instead was so much darker and utterly heart wrenching.
I don’t know if this is morbid on my behalf but I frequently wonder about my own inevitable death, wonder about how old I’ll be, where I’ll be, would my absence impact anyone to any great degree… I’m guessing I’m not the only one who thinks about these things because these themes are key to the plot of ‘Something to Live For’.
The book follows lonely Andrew as he navigates a council job that requires him to inspect the homes of recently deceased people who appear to have no next of kin in order to find out if they (a) have long lost family somewhere and (b) if they have accumulated enough finances to pay for a funeral. Andrew goes above and beyond his duty and always attends the funerals of these lost and lonely souls, frequently being the only person in attendance apart from the vicar.
Andrew feels a kinship with these people and the book explores why that is through the introduction of a new co-worker, Peggy. It quickly becomes apparent that Andrew has been living with some sort of trauma, and, because of this, has fabricated a personal life to make him feel somehow like he belongs. What started as a simple white lie to cover up a moment’s distraction during a job interview snowballs into a lie so huge that it smothers Andrew’s sense of identity. But with the introduction of Peggy, Andrew begins to find the motivation to live his true self and to finally face the tragedy of his past.
The character of Andrew is utterly compelling to read about. He is beautifully drawn with so many layers to his personality and his life’s story. Getting to know him through this book was an incredible journey to go on. My heart ached for him to find his truth, and his peace with that truth. His character arc is richly detailed, I was thoroughly gripped by the plot, and I was completely invested in getting to know what the outcome of his story would be. I also really enjoyed the ending of the book. I thought it was perfectly paced and hit the right notes of hope and bittersweetness.
The side characters in the book were obviously not quite as detailed as Andrew but each added their own unique charm to the novel. I was particularly fond of Andrew’s online buddies from the model train enthusiasts forum, and really liked how the book illustrated the meaningful friendships and connections that people can make using the internet.
But the best part of this book has to be Peggy. Her friendship with Andrew is delightful. She imbues lightness into this dark world of Andrew’s; even though she too has some personal demons regarding her marriage to an alcoholic husband. But when both Andrew and Peggy are on the page together it’s just wonderful. They have a sweet chemistry and it’s impossible to not want these two characters to find their happy ever after together… yes I know she’s married and some people might raise an eyebrow at that. But this book is written in such an honest way that you feel the depth of conflict on Peggy’s part. Her story arc isn’t black and white, and I am 100% convinced the ending for her character will satisfy any reader who might be uncomfortable with her marital status and how it conflicts with her friendship with Andrew.
This is a book that I would recommend to any fan of contemporary adult fiction. It does deal with topics surrounding death and loneliness which might be a little too dark for some readers, but amidst all the pain and sorrow in this novel there is great hope about the resilience of the human spirit, and how just one simple connection with another human being can save a life.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
This paperback edition publishing 23rd July 2020, Orion
Originally published in other regions in 2019 as ‘How Not to Die Alone’