#BookReview The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam


About the Book

Evan’s job is to help people die. 

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 the limits of the law – and his own morality. And with Viv increasingly unwell, his love life complicated, to say the least, Evan begins to wonder who might be there for him, when the time comes.

From an award-winning author, The Easy Way Out is a brilliantly funny and exquisitely sad novel that gets to the heart of one of the most difficult questions each of us may face: would you help someone die?

My Thoughts

I was drawn to this book by the subject matter, assisted suicide is something that I feel very passionate about so the chance to read a novel about the very subject was one I couldn’t resist.

This novel is brilliant – to take such a serious subject and treat it as such and yet have such a delicious dark humour around it is incredible.

Evan’s private life was a perfect balance to his career too. His mother has a degenerative condition and during the course of the book has an experimental treatment which initially appears to be working. Evan is constantly worried that she will go into a terminal decline but his mother is fiercely independent and won’t even consider the possibility. Plus she knows with the job Evan does that he will be able to make sure she doesn’t suffer or lose her dignity; however this isn’t something that Evan can even begin to face up to.

Evan is also something of a commitment-phobe. He’s in a sort-of relationship with two men but whilst they show him nothing but love and adoration, he keeps something of a distance from him. His two lovers live together and are always happy for him to be there with them, but Evan uses his mother’s illness to keep aloof.

The assisted suicides in this book are so well written. There is the one that Evan messes up due to shaky hands and has to have help from his boss to complete, there is the one where he helps a patient out into the fresh air for his final moments even though it is against the rules. There are the patients who want to keep him at a distance, and the ones who want to know about him. Eventually Evan loses his job and is drawn into a group of people who are helping people die but it’s not legal, it’s not done through the hospital but is instead people who self-refer to the group and don’t have to have proof of terminal illness. Some are ill, some are lonely and just want life to be over but don’t want to die alone. Evan struggles with this and alongside his life ending up here his mother disappears off on her own without appearing to leave a note. This sends Evan into something of a crisis and leads to him re-evaluating his own life.

The dark humour runs throughout this book and it really is the glue that brings the novel together, the same way it holds life together in the most dire of circumstances. It’s quite remarkable the things that we can laugh about, things that really aren’t funny and yet in the moment it’s the darkness that makes us laugh.

I’d highly recommend this novel. It may not be something that everyone feels is to their taste but it’s such an important issue that we need to think more widely about and this novel does such a brilliant job of conveying life and death in a real way, with compassion and a lot of humour.

I received a copy of this novel from Quercus Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author


Steven Amsterdam is a writer living in Melbourne. He was born and raised by lifelong New Yorkers in Manhattan.

He wrote his first story about a hamster whose family was starving. A lilac bush in bloom saved everyone.

Steven Amsterdam has edited travel guides, designed book jackets, is a psychiatric nurse. Is a palliative care nurse.

10 thoughts on “#BookReview The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

  1. You’re right – there are a number of issues where I think fiction is far better placed to really tease out all the major problems surrounding them and this is clearly one of them. It’s one reason I’m such a fan of science fiction, which often also deals with gnarly social and environmental subjects, but one step removed. A really enjoyable, well written review!

    • Thank you. I think it’s so important that fiction explores these issues – I’ve never read a novel on this subject matter before that was written in such an honest way whilst balancing the dark theme with humour and moments of light.

  2. Assisted suicide is such a difficult issue, isn’t it? There are so many complicated issues, and so many questions. It’s difficult and sad, but at the same time, it really is a good subject for a novel…

  3. I really enjoyed this as well and agree he’s dealt with the subject very sympathetically – and a sense of humour. He obviously knows his stuff (via his work) which I think also helps!

  4. Pingback: My Top Ten Fiction Reads 2016 | RatherTooFondofBooks

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