This novel describes the journey of a once well-respected scholar, Anderson, struggling (due to a recently diagnosed illness) to complete his book about finding the afterlife within the living. Anderson pursues researching the case of a young boy, Noah, who talks of memories of loving lizards, baseball, and Harry Potter (none of which his single mother, Janie, has taught him anything about) as well as the traumatic memory of his own death-by drowning.
I often find myself wondering about death (yes, I know it sounds more than a little morbid, but I find the topic interesting regardless), and this novel definitely made me stop dead in my tracks and think more in depth about all the outcomes depending on your belief system. This book pushed the boundaries of what I am so insistent on believing, not necessarily to change my own opinion but, to try to better understand how, why, and what others so fiercely believe. I did find the book at times, a little to predictable as far as the story line went, however, that didn't make it any less thought provoking when looking at the theme as a whole.
"Her vulnerability was showing? This was news to her. She wanted to ask where, so she could tuck it back where it belonged." pg. 5
"So many words. Oh, he wasn't read to give up any of them." pg. 22
"Never expect." pg. 23
"Is there life after Shakespeare. Now that is a question worth asking?" pg. 19
"the way he lit up when he caught sight of her, that crooked, face-splitting grin as he tumbled forward, taking a running leap across the room and hurling himself into her arms." pg. 28
"A remarkable discrepancy, he thought. They should write that on my tombstone." pg. 55
"When she was done reading, she felt dizzy, nauseated, agitated, sweaty, itchy, feverish, and fat." pg. 67
"You had to be where you were. The life you're living, the moment you're in" pg. 106
"You think you're in control, but really you're simply staring at the moving lights." pg. 119
"Her eyes were red-rimmed, accusing." pg. 127
"Time to stop this." pg. 150
"She did her part; she kept a pleasant expression on her face and did her job the best she could despite the absolute storm of shit that sometimes came down on her." pg. 165
"You're a good man, and she's a stupid woman." pg. 175
"If consciousness survived death--and he had showed that it did--then how did this connect with what Max Planck and the quantum physicists realized: that events didn't occur unless they were observed, and therefore that consciousness was fundamental, and matter itself was derived from it?" pg. 207
"She had no thoughts or feelings left. She was watching herself from a great height, the way the recent dead are said to watch their own bodies." pg. 210
"All she remembered was being shocked that the world had so much pain in it, and the unfairness that one family should take on so much of the suffering." pg. 261
"Why were we all hoarding love, stockpiling it, when it was all around us, moving in and out of us like thin air, if only we could feel it?" pg. 302
"There was nothing to hold on to anymore. Only everything." pg. 323
"What if what you did mattered more because life happened again and again, consequences unfolding across centuries and continents? What if you had chances upon chances to love the people you loved, to fix what you screwed up, to get it right?" pg. 334
"The secret to life is ice cream." pg. 351
If you have any sort of interest in the "afterlife," or any thoughts (yay or nay) on whether there is life after death, I would highly recommend this read. However, if you have no interest in the various perceptions of life after death, then this novel most likely isn't for you.