"This is the life: Not the one you thought you had yesterday. Or the one that might not be here tomorrow. Just this one. Here and now..."
This is the story of Louis, who never quite fit in, and of his younger brother, who always tried to tag along. As they got older, they grew apart. And as they got older still, one of them got cancer, and the other became his caretaker. Then they became close again, two brothers on one final journey together, wading through the stuff that's thicker than water.
Told in anecdotes as his brother remembers them, we discover who this cranky, cancerous Louis once was. That before his brain surgery he had a mind that was said to be bigger than the rest of the family's put together, and that his heart was--and still is--just as big. That it's hard getting a haircut with a brain tumor, and that it does no good to help your brother memorize a PIN number when he might not be able to remember where the bank is. We learn along with these two brothers how the little stuff is as big as the big stuff, how tragedy and comedy go together, and how necessary it is that they do.
Inspired by Shearer's experiences when his own brother was dying and written with a warm touch that is at once tender and achingly funny, This Is the Life is a moving testimony to both the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of the simpler things in life, like not taking a dying man's tea kettle away.
My brother's brain surgery brought us back together
Praise for the book:
“This is a lovely, touching book. The subject is a poignant one, handled with tact, insight and, most of all, with love.” ~Alexander McCall Smith
"Poignant...Shearer's exquisite prose is most powerful when the younger brother comes to appreciate Louis' quirks and unconventional choices and, in the end, eloquently grieves his passing. This pensive, poetic novel humorously though sensitively expresses the complications of sibling relationships, the ambiguity of absolution, and the beauty of life." ~Kirkus
“[A] poignant and compassionate novel…The earthy humor that often peeks through provides much-needed comic relief…the brothers’ dialogue stands out as authentic and spot-on." ~Publishers Weekly
“[A] deeply felt, often funny, heartbreaking book.” ~Booklist