Book Review: This Is the Life by Alex Shearer
Parts of This Is the Life by Alex Shearer were interesting and poignant, but it felt forced and awkward at times, so overall, it wasn’t a hit.
This is the Life
AUTHOR: Alex Shearer
PUBLISHER: Atria Books
GENRE: Fiction, Contemporary, Illness
LENGTH: 240 pages
RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2015
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Louis never really fit it anywhere, drifting around to different countries, different jobs, different people. That is until he got sick. Now Louis and his brother have one last journey to take together, but it won’t always be a good one.
There are two sides to how I felt about This Is the Life. On the one hand, it was a wonderful, deep, sad story about a man dealing with a brain tumor and his brother attempting to keep it together while remembering their lives. There’s grief, sorrow, happiness, confusion, and pain. On the other hand, it is an awkwardly written story with weird dialogue and strange characters.
Let’s start with the dialogue. Nothing any of the characters said felt like real conversations. It was robotic almost, and none of it sounded like a real conversation between friends or siblings. Some of the descriptions were real and well-written but then I’d come across a badly worded sentence and it would jolt me out of the story.
The whole book is full of observations by the unnamed brother of Louis, who is remembering their childhood, the years they spent apart during which they only heard from each other over the phone, and their life together since Louis got sick. Then, at the end of each and every chapter, our narrator, the brother, ends with a forced conclusion, a reflection on what he’s discussed and realized about himself or life or whatever. These forced profound musings on life and death felt ridiculous, like he was reading too much into his experiences.
For me, This Is the Life was too bland. Even though Louis’ story was interesting and sad and profound, it was overshadowed by the awkwardly written dialogue and characters. I enjoyed parts of the book, but it wasn’t really for me.