By Lionel Shriver – Harper, 2021
In their 50s, Kay and Cyril both work in health care and have just watched the decade-long, agonizing demise of Kay’s once-brilliant father to Alzheimer’s. With firsthand professional and personal experience of the indignities of aging, they know the sacrifices families make as they stand by helplessly and watch a person die slowly. They make a pact to end their lives, together, at the age of 80. The next three decades pass and, lo, they’re at their use-by date. What happens next is revealed in a dozen different possibilities, brilliantly thought out. In one alternate universe, they end up in residential care where they’re neglected and forgotten; in another, at a posh facility where they’re treated like royalty. In yet another scenario, they choose cryogenics with return when they would be free of disease. But this is not a morbid collection of “what ifs.” It’s a thought-provoking, often humorous read on how we approach death and the choices we make. In other words, perfect for your book club.