The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

Evan’s job is to help people die.

Evan is a nurse – a suicide assistant. His job is legal – just. He’s the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it.

Evan’s friends don’t know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn’t know what he’s up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble ahead.

As he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against the limits of the law – and his own morality. And with Viv increasingly unwell, his love life complicated, to say the least, Evan begins to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes.

From an award-winning author, The Easy Way Out is a brilliantly funny and exquisitely sad novel that gets to the heart of one of the most difficult questions each of us may face: would you help someone die?

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The right to die. An emotive subject, and one that some people seem to struggle with. I fully support a person’s right to die at a time and using a method of their choosing. I find our current practice of desperately trying to keep people alive quite, to be frank, barbaric. Quality of life should be the main consideration when discussing euthanasia.

Our narrator, Evan, is thrown into a role as an assistant. He fumbles his way through the first assisted suicide, leading the reader to cringe throughout much of the first section of the book. His relationship with his mother, Viv, is a strange one, a constant game of tug of war. Viv has Parkinson’s, and is an excellent depiction of someone who is chronically, rather than terminally, ill. My illness won’t necessarily kill me, but it impacts my life in such a way that many healthy people don’t understand. Amsterdam understands, and shows this through Viv and her struggle towards being dependent on her son and others.

Evan’s sexuality shouldn’t bother anyone in this day and age, but the sex scenes can be quite graphic, which I’m not particularly fond of as a rule, but it does lend the story a raw, emotional feel. Evan is gay and involved in open relationships, taking what he needs and giving in return, but never allowing himself to love or be loved.

The writing is entertaining and playful, light despite the darker theme. Amsterdam is thoughtful and tender, but doesn’t hold back with the harsher details. He describes a reality of suffering, one that might offend some, and so it should. Leaving people to suffer and take a long time to die is not civilised, and it amazes me that we still adhere to this practice. It’s past time that more countries approached death in a more sensible, caring manner.

The Easy Way Out isn’t just an exploration of euthanasia and someone’s right to die, but also a meditation on life. It asks deeper questions, brings deeper thoughts to the surface. It forces you to examine your beliefs, and why you hold them. Why do we play? Evan asks himself. Why indeed.

Goodreads | Amazon

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