Review: 'Life and Other Near-Death Experiences' by Camille Pagan (2015)
Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.
With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live—and love—a little longer?
Sometimes I have the luck to unexpectedly receive review copies of books I didn't request; books sent by publishers for me to check out, which provides me with the opportunity to read novels I might not have picked up myself or which I didn't even know anything about. That was also the case with Camille Pagan's 'Life and Other Near-Death Experiences', which was first released in 2015 by Lake Union Publishing. Before I received this book in the post I hadn't heard of Camille Pagan, but the research I did online sounded really promising and I was excited to check out one of her books and curious to see whether I would enjoy it!
Libby Miller didn't have many problems with how life turned out for her. Alright, she missed her mother who died when Libby was young and she doesn't have the best job in the world working for a crazy boss, but she has her dreams and prospects for the future, her friends and family and a loving husband. Until Libby receives some devastating news from both her doctor and her husband on the same day, and suddenly her life will never be the same again. Not knowing what to do, she decides to leave Chicago and go on a hideaway trip to the Caribbean, where she can figure out what her next steps will be. But no matter how far she travels, Libby soon realises she can't run away from her life and will need to deal with it all, rather sooner than later.
When I picked up this novel I wasn't too sure what exactly to expect at first. After having read it, I am still not quite sure which genre to put it in, because I personally would not call this 'chick lit', which I've seen in some other reviews. Whatever genre, though, Camille Pagan has made a good attempt at writing a surprisingly light-hearted novel with a storyline that does include a few heavy topics, such as the break-up of a marriage and terminal illness. The author has her own quite distinctive writing style that was well-paced and intrigued me, which kept me curious to see where protagonist Libby's journey would eventually end and which decisions she would make along the way.
I have to admit I just didn't connect with Libby and her story as much as I would have liked to. Libby is a difficult character; she's stubborn and dealt with what is thrown at her in a way I just couldn't understand. Luckily I've never been in her situation, but her actions just surprised me and it didn't make me warm to her. I did like the ending, but overall the novel just wasn't my type of read because of the lack of empathy I felt for the main character. I'm positive Camille Pagan's 'Life and Other Near-Death Experiences' is the type of novel other readers will really enjoy and appreciate, but while I did quite enjoy it, it just wasn't for me.