This story follows Terrence McDonald, who has just died. He finds himself in the afterlife, and his presence has garnered the attention of “The Boss” himself. Terrence now has to complete his life review, but the stakes surrounding this event are incredibly high. You see, before he incarnated the last time, he made an agreement with the powers that be: If he does not learn the lesson of his life, he will cease to exist and any form. Goodbye, life; hello oblivion.
So the book then takes us on an incredible journey as we view the life of a man through the eyes of himself and his loved ones, a journey that is poignant, sometimes heartbreaking, oftentimes harrowing but undoubtedly unforgettable. We get to see and experience Terrence’s emotions, fears, doubts, and pain; we basically get to experience the pivotal events in Terrence’s life along with his family as both Terrence and the reader attempt to figure out his elusive life lesson.
I find stories about the afterlife exceptionally intriguing that this novel did not disappoint. It is a story with a huge heart and a melancholy emotional core that is wistfully sad and joyful at the same time.
I think that the author has created something truly special here — a razor-witted deeply moving that examines the modern human condition. It’s a novel of so many layers with such a massive heart that it succeeded in making me weep a time or two. So in this way, it was incredibly profound and shattering yet provided a sense of joy when it all came to an end.
It’s narrated with such great compassion that it left me wanting to follow the next chapter in Terrence’s life. I also loved how wonderfully full, complex and empathetic the characters are. As people drift in and out of Terrence’s story, they seem so complete, like they’ve wandered in from their own novel to appear briefly in this one.
My only niggle with the story was that there was a small poem before every chapter. Typically I’m not fond of this device very much and mostly gloss over then when reading a novel. There were a lot of chapters in this book meaning a lot of space devoted to the opening poems. I realized that this is just a personal dislike of mine as most people don’t seem to mind it.
But all in all, I was totally mesmerized by the story and continued to ruminate over the characters and story long after putting my Kindle to rest. This is such a smart story, an eye-opening account of letting go of prejudices and fear; of seeing beyond what we think we know. It’s a story of love, family, friendship, resilience, and truth. It’s a story about the boxes we let ourselves be placed in and the labels we refuse to wear.
So if you enjoy stories about the afterlife, then you may wish to give What Death Taught Terrence a go.