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Publisher's Summary

National best seller

For fans of Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air and Will Schwalbe, the moving, inspiring story of a young husband and father who, when diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 33, sets out to build a legacy for his infant son.

i can't make you feel what it's like to be a young, dumb, naïve 30-year-old sitting in the back of a walk-in clinic waiting to be handed what is essentially a death sentence any more than i can show you what it feels like to have a husband or father or child who's dying and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop it. i can only describe to you how i feel today. angry. at peace. scared. grateful. a giant, spiky, flowering heart-shaped bouquet of contradictions.

Layton Reid was a globe-trotting, risk-taking, sunshine-addicted bachelor - then came a melanoma diagnosis. Cancer startled him out of his arrested development - he returned home to Halifax to work as a wedding photographer - and remission launched him into a new, passionate life as a husband and father-to-be. When the melanoma returned, now at Stage IV, Layton and his family put all their stock into a punishing alternative therapy, hoping for a cure. This Is Not the End of Me recounts Layton's three-year journey as he tried desperately to stay alive for his young son, Finn, and then found purpose in preparing Finn for a world without him. 

With incredible intimacy, grit, and empathy, reporter Dakshana Bascaramurty casts an unsentimental eye on who her good friend was: his effervescence, his twisted wit, his anger, his vulnerability. Interweaving Layton's own reflections - his diaries written for Finn, his letters to his wife, Candace, and his public journal - she paints a keenly observed portrait of Layton's remarkable evolution. In detailing the ugly, surprising, and occasionally funny ways in which Layton and his family faced his mortality, the book offers an unflinching look at how a person dies, and how we might build a legacy in our information-saturated age. 

Powerful and unvarnished, This Is Not the End of Me is about someone who didn't get a very happy ending, but learned to squeeze as much life as possible from his final days.

©2020 Dakshana Bascaramurty (P)2020 Penguin Random House Canada

What the critics say

"This Is Not the End of Me is a profoundly moving book about living wrapped in a book about dying. An immersive, beautifully detailed portrait of a young family learning to cope with illness, it will resonate long after the final page is read." (Elizabeth Renzetti, author of Shrewed)

"How do you continue living even as you prepare for death? In the case of Layton Reid, who died at 37, a terminal cancer diagnosis led him to try to condense decades of love, marriage and fatherhood into a mere handful of years. Intimate and unvarnished, Dakshana Bascaramurty's This Is Not the End of Me faithfully chronicles her friend’s reckoning with his mortality and legacy. Bearing witness to the journey of Layton, his wife, Candace, and the couple’s families, Bascaramurty tenderly captures moments of compassion and grace, as well as denial, anger and sorrow. This is a book about the profound, fragile and beautiful condition of being human." (Rachel Giese, author of Boys: What It Means to Become a Man, winner of the Writers' Trust of Canada Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing)

"Cancer patients are often portrayed as heroes and survivors, as caricatures. Dakshana Bascaramurty provides an intimate glimpse of the more common, not-always-rosy reality: The loneliness, fear, desperation, grieving and loss experienced by cancer patients and their families. This Is Not the End of Me is not always an easy read but a necessary one - an enlightening exploration of coming to terms with mortality." (André Picard, health columnist, The Globe and Mail, author of Matters of Life and Death)

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What listeners say about This Is Not the End of Me

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Yyz
  • 2021-01-07

Very moving

This is a moving account of a father's love. The story is quite linear, it's an easy listen despite the heavy subject matter.

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Hmmmm...

Gotta say, it became rather maudlin. Most of the book dwelt on his toddler son - had a lot of “cute” experiences. Not much about him actually talking about the experience of dying - the fear, strangeness. Not a peep about MAID ( doctor assisted suicide). But lots of “cute” stories about divvying up his ashes, and having videos for his son. Considering he was into his 30s after roaming around without a real purpose for years, his death seemed like a stage for him to be “heroic” for posterity , especially knowing that the author was writing a book about him while he was dying. This isn’t a book with very meaningful incites into what we are all going to deal with at some point.

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Very moving story.

Well written, down-to-earth. Your heart will go out to the family. Be prepared to share a lot of tears!