Author: Steven Amsterdam
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Date of Publication: August 30th, 2016
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
A brand new novel everyone will be talking about from the award-winning author of THINGS WE DIDN'T SEE COMING and WHAT THE FAMILY NEEDED.
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?
Euthanasia means a good death. It is a topic that has been the subject of debate for many years, with some countries introducing laws allowing active, voluntary euthanasia, others allowing passive euthanasia, or the law of double effect, and yet others banning the practice of helping anyone end their life in any way.
In The Easy Way Out, assisted suicide has been legalised in specific cases. Evan works in the unit of the hospital dealing with assisted suicide. The rules are clear. Everyone has to agree, including loved ones. The medical professional must stay neutral. They can pass the Nembutal, a fatal barbiturate, to the patient, but the patient must lift the cup to their own mouth without assistance. Before they are handed the cup, they must agree several times that they want to die and are ready to do so. Death is then swift, within an hour.
Evan is involved in this process first as an observer, then as a facilitator. He struggles with the restrictions placed on his involvement, becoming involved with an organisation that offers a more hands on approach.
At the same time, his mother, who has Parkinson's, has an amazing recovery due to a new treatment. She moves out of her nursing home and back into her apartment, displacing Evan. Her doctor warns that this might be a temporary reprieve, but she is going to make the most of it.
Evan is a hot mess. His relationship with his mother is messed up, he is romantically involved with a couple who he keeps at arms length, despite their desire for more.
The Easy Way Out explores the moral and ethical issues surrounding assisted suicide. It is graphic and messy and doesn't romanticise the issue in any way. It really is an extremely thought provoking read, and it's taken me quite a few weeks to put my thoughts together in order to write this review.
Euthanasia, in all its forms, is something I've had a long time to think about. When I was 13, watching Beaches with my mother, she told me that if she was ever on life support she wanted it turned off. That's not an easy thing for a 13 year old to hear from a chronically ill parent, but the issue has been on my radar ever since. I read this book just after my grandmother took too long to die of cancer, and a friend died too soon. I still firmly believe that people should have a say in their own death, and should not be made to suffer needlessly.
Whether you are for or against euthanasia in any of its forms, this book will give you much to think about. The Easy Way Out presents assisted death as something that is never easy, but can perhaps be easier than the alternative.