Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Review: The Very Last List of Vivian Walker

Title: The Very Last List of Vivian Walker

Author: Megan Albany

Publisher: 9th February 2022 by Hachette Australia

Pages: 298 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: contemporary

My Rating: 4 cups


Vivian Walker is dying. This is not on her list of things to do. A darkly funny debut that proves even the most imperfect of lives is worth celebrating.

Now that I've got cancer, I know I should be letting go and just being in the moment with my child but, seriously, what mother has got time to spend with their kids?

Vivian Walker's life is exceptionally ordinary. Average husband, check. Darling son, check. Refrigerator in a state of permanent disarray, check. Everything is thoroughly and frustratingly routine, even being terminally ill.

After receiving her diagnosis, Viv's family won't let her lift a finger . . . for at least a week. But once the novelty wears off, she's lucky to get a cup of tea for her trouble. In preparation for D-day, self-professed control freak Viv has made a list of essential things to do, such as decluttering the playroom and preparing her taxes. She doesn't expect to become spiritually enlightened or have any outlandish last-minute successes. All she wants is to finish her unfinished business.

As her final days unfold, Viv realises her life has become a love letter to the mundane but she still manages to keep her wicked sense of humour and cynical take on life unapologetically intact. The Very Last List of Vivian Walker will make you ugly cry, snort tea out your nose with laughter and want to embrace humanity in all its selfishness, beauty and awkwardness.

My Thoughts

‘We’re also trying to pretend I have lived some sort of incredible life, like I was supposed to, so we can make sense of why I was on the planet in the first place.’

I am a self confessed list maker so I was always going to be drawn to this book. I mean, what would your final list on this earth include? This book is both reflective and left of centre in its approach to this difficult topic. 

Author Megan takes you on a journey with Vivian and her lists as her life is coming to an end because of cancer. I am sure you can appreciate that there is most definitely a certain amount of sadness associated with this story. However Vivian, for a variety of reasons, will make you laugh at times, make you cry or cringe at others. Yet through it all the reader will discover some very profound contemplations about life and living. 

This book certainly packs a punch and puts all the good, bad and ugly on display for all to read. Dying is not celebrated and Megan includes it all in a very honest and raw approach lined with dark satire and humour. Vivian is one hundred percent a no nonsense character and calls a spade a spade (and a lot of other things to boot!) So depending on where you stand, the reader will either understand, cringe or find it refreshing. At times, despite her sad situation, Vivian is most unlikeable and treats those around her abysmally (Clint, aka husband, is front and centre). Yet, given her upbringing and diagnosis, does it make it understandable?

What I take away from this book is some reflections that I found to be both profound and confronting. This is a book about self, family and those nearest and dearest. This is also a book that is a gift (dare I say ‘list’) from someone who, facing death, aims to reconcile the here and the hereafter. 

‘With time not on my side, I’ve still had the odd moment when I’ve considered stuffing everything into a backpack …. to see where life might take me for my final chapter … instead I am enjoying a chai and a chocolate brownie on a sunny day … I feel how much I am really, really enjoying it. It’s the small things they say, and today, for once, they are right.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

No comments:

Post a Comment