The Easy Way Out

Steven Amsterdam

 
The Easy Way Out
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The Easy Way Out

Steven Amsterdam

If you could help someone in pain, would you?

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 legality, his own morality and the best intentions of those closest to him, discovering that his own path will be neither quick nor painless.

He knows what he has to do.

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Steven Amsterdam challenges readers to face the most taboo and heartbreaking of dilemmas. Would you help someone end their life?

Review

This is what we already know about Amsterdam’s writing: he spins recognised worlds upside down. He has the ability to see into the future and then to discuss, reasonably, what would happen if this was our actual reality. We experienced this in his last, excellent novel, What the Family Knew, and quite frankly, he’s done it again.

However, this time we are not dealing with superpowers, but rather with the more taboo topic of euthanasia. What issues would emerge, asks Amsterdam, if this course of action was accessible and supported? To answer, Amsterdam centres the narrative on Evan, a legal suicide assistant. Evan is inevitably quiet about his role at the hospital with his lovers and friends, and he’s also quiet about his social life when he’s with his aging mother. The Easy Way Out explores those themes of selectively hiding and disclosing identity as Evan grapples with all of his secrets.

As his mother comes to terms with the end of her life, Evan is drawn into a consideration of the cost of his role. This novel is a superb example of a multi-layered story that centres on assisted suicide, but is also the story of son’s relationship with his mother. Amsterdam’s writing encourages discussion and in the end asks the question: what would you do? This is a brilliant, compelling novel that is confronting, courageous and genuinely moving.


Chris Gordon is the Events Manager for Readings.

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