Still With Me –by Thierry Cohen (Translated by Summer Robinson)
286 Page / 313 KB
Not an easy read, and after finishing the book, and reading a bit about why it was written, I can understand it probably was not an easy book to write, either. I finished it a few days ago, and wasn't sure how to write the review, or even if I wanted to; however, the book is still with me, and I'm giving it 5 stars because of the ending, and because I'm still thinking about it.
It starts off with our hero committing suicide. Or attempting to commit suicide, over a love lost. (It's his 20th birthday, he's in for several loves lost, should he survive, no? Yes?)
On his 22d birthday, he "wakes" to discover his suicide failed, he's lost two years, and he did, in fact, marry the love of his life. That night, before bed, he has a seizure (for lack of a better word) and is paralyzed with fear as an old man appears next to him and says the kaddish for him.
Every so many years, he 'wakens' – always on his birthday – to discover in the intervening years he has become a mean, ornery sonofagun. He loses his friends, his wife, his children, and no one, including the doctors, either believes him, or can help him.
The last time he wakes, he knows beyond a reasonable doubt that on that day he will finally die. He discovers his youngest son believes him, and takes him to his grandson's wedding, where he sees his older son, his ex wife, a rabbi who tried to help, his one-time best friend. He is finally able to face his life – and his death – and make peace with his god.
This is, perhaps, an old morality tale revamped as some reviewers have stated. I read it as a novel. Period. While I feel a great deal of sympathy for those who feel the only way out of their situations is suicide, I also feel for their loved ones. However, I do not believe that suicide is of itself inherently evil or wrong. That belief seems to be inherent in the Judeo-Christian religions, to which I am not aligned.
I don't normally like 'writing as therapy' and yet, Mr. Cohen wrote this book to help him deal with the suicide of one of his friends, and I think it works. At least, I'm still thinking about the book – and the end. It is my thought that when you read the book, you and I will have different perceptions about the ending, so I don't want to say any more.