Nova is an end-of-life doula. As people face their deaths, she supports them in whatever ways they need--emotional, logistical, and even spiritual. She specializes in unusual or difficult cases, often with younger clients. As she begins work with Mason Shaylor, a musician whose affliction is a bit unclear and who has only said that his life is over, she feels a connection that is both uncomfortable and life-affirming--for them both.
Strawser takes on the subjects of life death head-on--how we face it, how we choose to live, and what makes a life worth living. The role of an end-of-life doula is fascinating--if ripe for controversy, as the novel reveals. As you might guess, there is a lot of sadness in this novel, but also a lot to think about.
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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.
Jessica Strawser’s 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.