Book Review / Jessica Strawser / Reviews with Spoilers

Jessica Strawser | The Next Thing You Know

The Book: 

The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strawser
Published March 22nd 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
Date read: March 28, 2022

The Characters: 


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

As an end-of-life doula, Nova Huston’s job—her calling, her purpose, her life—is to help terminally ill people make peace with their impending death. Unlike her business partner, who swears by her system of checklists, free-spirited Nova doesn’t shy away from difficult clients: the ones who are heartbreakingly young, or prickly, or desperate for a caregiver or companion.

When Mason Shaylor shows up at her door, Nova doesn’t recognize him as the indie-favorite singer-songwriter who recently vanished from the public eye. She knows only what he’s told her: That life as he knows it is over. His deteriorating condition makes playing his guitar physically impossible—as far as Mason is concerned, he might as well be dead already.

Except he doesn’t know how to say goodbye.

Helping him is Nova’s biggest challenge yet. She knows she should keep clients at arm’s length. But she and Mason have more in common than anyone could guess… and meeting him might turn out to be the hardest, best thing that’s ever happened to them both.

The Next Thing You Know is an emotional, resonant story about the power of human connection, love when you least expect it, hope against the odds, and what it really takes to live life with no regrets.

Click here for book spoilers for The Next Thing You Know
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read The Next Thing You Know, I suggest you turn back now.

The Ending:

Nova was in unexplained remission from terminal cancer.

Mason didn’t kill himself. He had planned to, but changed his mind after he fell in love with Nova. On the night that he died, Willow’s friends were playing in the road with their dog. The dog ran away from them and jumped in front of Mason’s car. Mason swerved to keep from hitting the dog, but his lack of reflexes in his arms prevented him from getting his car back on the road in time.

Nova was cleared of all fault. Kelly apologized for siding against her, and Nova stayed in Cincinnati in her death doula position. She had a renewed appreciation for her second chance at life.

The Review: 

The Next Thing You Know would be an awesome pick for a book club. The concept of “end of life doulas” welcomes discussion, and the book leaves readers with a lot to unpack. It would have been fun to discuss this with a fellow reader after I finished.

The author approaches a potentially polarizing topic with a lot of grace and sensitivity. From the blurb I assumed this book would be about physician-assisted suicide, but I was completely wrong. Strawser clearly did her research, and it was fun to learn more about this field that I have no experience with

This is a very powerful, emotional story, and readers should take care to make sure they are in the right frame of mind to read this book. I really enjoyed Nova and Mason’s story, although it certainly brought the tears.

Audio Review: Christa Lewis is a new name to me, but I enjoyed her production of  The Next Thing You Know. She spoke clearly, and her comforting voice was a great accompaniment to a heartbreaking story.

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