Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán Book Review

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán is a romance book about a woman going through some major life changes.

Libby Miller’s life is over. And no she’s not being dramatic. Firstly her husband and high-school sweetheart comes out as gay and secondly her doctor has called her with the news that she has terminal cancer, similar to that one that killed her mother when she was a child.

Refusing treatments and escaping the scrutiny of her worried twin brother and father she leaves behind her life in Chicago for the beautiful, warm Caribbean to live what life she has left to the fullest.

However, things don’t go according to plan and instead of the spontaneous and peaceful escape she was looking for instead she finds an unexpected romance that came along at the worst time. With her brother closer to finding her and uncovering the truth of her swift departures and her newfound love does Libby change her mind and fight to live?

Books that deal with terminal diagnoses are honestly not typically something I like to read. However, this book takes it as a way to show how someone can change their life when they choose to start living.

Read this book if you enjoy:

  • Holiday romances
  • Life stories





Excerpt from Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán  

Moreover, I could have been hit by a car an hour after Tom told me he was gay, and that would have been that. As much as I hated to admit this, even to myself, terminal cancer did offer one parting gift: a sliver of extra time in which to alter my narrative.

I put on my favorite outfit, a burgundy sweater dress and high-heeled leather boots that Jess talked me into buying last year. Then I removed my wedding band, which I should have done three days before. I dangled it over the toilet bowl, daring myself to let it hit the white porcelain and disappear in a whoosh of water.

Tom had picked out the ring for me. I didn’t see it for the first time until he was putting it on my finger at our wedding ceremony. “Do you really like it?” he asked me eagerly, moments after the pastor declared us husband and wife.

“Yes,” I whispered, running my finger over the smooth gold. It was neither thick nor thin, and unlike the lovely engagement ring that had been my mother’s and was now mine, the band was not ornate in any way.

It was, I thought at the time, exactly like the love Tom and I shared: simple and easy.

Now I knew there was nothing easy about our love, nor much else in life. I stopped waving my hand precariously over the toilet and tossed the ring in my makeup bag.

An hour later, I marched through the doors of Tom’s office.

“Libby! Long time no see!” said Alex from behind the reception desk. Alex was my kind of person: too smart for his job, but wise enough to know that complaining wouldn’t help him fly the coop any faster.

“Hey, Alex,” I said, reminding myself to smile. “Is Tom around?”

“Yep,” he said, then rang Tom, who was out to the lobby like a shot. While I fully own that I maimed him and kicked him out of our home, I was still shocked to see that—why, yes, he actually seemed irritated that I showed up at his workplace.

“Bad timing?” I asked.

“No, of course not,” he said, leaning in to hug me.

I bent back like the reigning limbo champion of Eastern Illinois. “No, no, no,” I chided playfully, well aware that Tom would catch the edge in my voice.

“Let’s go outside,” he said.

“Let’s not,” I said, directing him into the cube city that made up his workplace.

“Libby, what’s this about?” he asked under his breath as I walked to his desk.

If he was worried that I would out him to his coworkers, he needn’t have been. “I told you, I don’t want you at the apartment.”

“Uh, okay,” he said, fidgeting with the buttons on his shirtsleeve. “So . . . are you here to talk? I was hoping we could do that sometime soon.”

“No, I am not.” I could have spread it out, made a scene. But I’ll admit—I wanted it to be over. “It turns out that the State of Illinois decided that divorce should be a long and painful process.”

“I already told you. I don’t want a divorce.”

“You don’t, Tom, but you will,” I said. I felt a sob bubbling up from deep within me. I swallowed it and steadied myself. “So without further ado—”

I glanced around to see if his colleagues were within earshot, and darn if he didn’t duck like I was about to pull out a gun.

“Get up, fudgewit,” I said sharply.

He rose slowly.

“Tom Miller,” I said, “I, Libby Miller, divorce you. I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you.”

I was expecting shock, but as my eyes met his, all I saw was hurt. This is not your fault, Libby, I reminded myself. Don’t let his pain emotionally derail you. He’s the one that threw you on the tracks.