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So Much for That by Lionel Shriver

In this novel, that I think that I saw referred to on NPR, Shriver takes on the health care system and uses his novel to provide social commentary about how it is broken. It also tends to rail against the system of taxation that is currently in place. 

The main character is Shepherd (Shep for short), who spent much of his life building up a handyman business. The business was successful and Shep had a pretty good life - he was married to a wonderful woman and they had two children together. Shep sold the business and put the money into an account so that he could go to Pemba on a trip and retire there.  However, his wife contracts mesothelioma - a particularly virulent form of cancer - that begins to decimate his savings. Glynis, his wife, naturally becomes bitter and blames Shep ( thinking that the asbestos he worked with caused the cancer) and herself, for using art supplies that had asbestos in it as well. As it turns out, the person that he sold the company to has agreed to keep him on but the health care plan that the new owner purchased is absolutely horrendous and so Shep ends up having to foot a lot of the bills.

His best friend,Jackson is also in a similar situation - his daughter Flicka has a serious genetic medical condition that will lead to her death soon and which requires constant around the clock care and medications.

This novel was hard to get into but once I got into it, I enjoyed it. The characters are very vivid and well drawn and the diatribes are very relevant to today's issues.  The writing style was all right - nothing to fawn over - and was part of the reason that I had a hard time getting into the novel.

Grade: B


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