Life After Life
“The longest and most expensive journey you will ever take is the one to yourself.”
An ending that has everything a book needs: a twist, a reunion with a long lost friend, death of a loved one, a new found romance, and a promise to live a life worth living. I’m at a loss for words because of the death of a character that made the book worth reading and was not only lovable but relatable. I learned from her and want to continue to learn from her, and yet her time has passed. A smidge of happiness tucked into the grief makes the entire book memorable in the most pleasant of ways and worth the journey traveled to get there.
What started out as a mediocre, 2-star book became a 4-star read in the end solely based on the emotional roller coaster ride that the ending took me on.
Joanna is a hospice worker that frequents Pine Haven nursing home. We meet a variety of characters from the lovable Sadie to the hot-tempered Toby and the “perfect” mother everyone loves to hate. The tattooed and wild C.J. and the unique eight-year-old, Abby, all frequent the nursing home to spend time with the residents and work. We learn more about these people in the most intimate of ways through the stories they share with each other and Joanna while on their deathbed. The small town has more to its story that what first meets the eye and everyone has a skeleton or two in their closets. Full of memories, second chances, and new beginnings, Jill McCorkle takes readers on an emotional ride right through to the end.
This particular novel has received a mixture of reviews that, after reading a few on Goodreads, I found interesting. It seemed everything I enjoyed about the book and its characters is what bothered most readers. Others thought the beginning was wonderful and well thought out, where I was bored. The chapters, especially those in the beginning, are long and fragmented. Some of the characters are hard to understand because their “thoughts” bounce from one memory to another and from past to present. While having long chapters isn’t a horrible thing, I prefer books with shorter chapters just so I am not stuck in the middle of something when I have to put my book down, which is quite often. 
I loved the ending. Without giving too much away, there are events in the character’s lives that lead up to their “predictable” endings. Yes, some of it (like the more than insinuated love story) was utterly predictable, but it still fit the story. Other parts, I didn’t want to happen and yet it still fit into that character’s lifestyle and story. 
Yes, there was a twist ending. A few in fact and one of which left me almost in tears. You fall in love with some characters sometimes and this book had one character in particular that reminded me so much of individuals I have met in my life that I did not want to leave her behind. I didn’t want her story to end. I wanted to hear more of her wisdom, her memories, and spend more time with her. But all books must come to an end and this one ultimately left me a little hungover with the results. I want to go back and read it again to see if something has changed, but the ending has happened and there is no changing that.
Some readers felt the ending was rushed and written in a hurry, but I think this was a carefully thought out process. The book as a whole is a slowly built process and then about halfway through the speed picks up, as life, in general, does. I am not typically one for an emotional book, but every now and then I pick something up even though I know I may be left sad. While I am sad about the enormous amounts of loss in this story, there are glimpses of hope throughout and a silver lining to the clouds in the end.

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