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Book details

  • Date Published: Nov. 1, 2015
  • Pages: 254
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
  • Content Warnings: Grief, cancer, divorce

Life and Other Near Death Experiences Review

I’m surprised I don’t hear people talk about Camille Pagán books more than I do because I have yet to read a Pagan book that I didn’t like. 

Life and Other Near Death Experiences is a story about grief, secrets people keep in marriages, how to handle a cancer diagnosis (and how not to), sibling relationships, managing an overbearing boss, and the internal struggles that come with all of these things, just to name a few. 

Pagán has a way of taking difficult topics and lacing them with humor without making light of them. 

Life and Other Near Death Experiences begins with Libby Miller receiving devastating news that she has been diagnosed with cancer. When she gets home to tell her husband about it, he springs some news of his own on her before she even has a chance to tell him. This is the beginning of Libby’s downhill spiral as she tries to come to terms with her diagnosis in light of the fact that her own mother, who she was very close with, died of cancer. 

But Pagán does not leave Libby or the reader in despair. Even though Libby is in a state of near-insanity, she has several voices of reason in her life who help put her on a healthier path. I especially loved her relationship with her twin brother.  

Libby is a very sympathetic character as she tries to navigate several difficult situations all at the same time. She definitely doesn’t always make the best decisions, but that’s also what makes her very relatable. 

Even though this book deals with heavy topics, I thought it was a book with a lot of hope and optimism. 

Since most of the book takes place on the beach, I think this would make for a great book to add to your summer reading list. 

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain’s production company, Freckle Films. 

If you are an aspiring writer, be sure to check out Pagán’s podcast about the writing craft, You Should Write a Book. 

Pagán is the author of nine novels and one novella, which is a Christmas story. See the full list of all of her novels below. 

Publisher’s Description

“Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage hours after 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. 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 bliss is an invitation to disaster, but with her 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?”

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