The Best Thing

Quirky. Heartwarming. Uplifting. Not normally words you’d associate with a story about euthanasia, the ravages of age and terminal illness. Yet that’s exactly what I was left with after reading “The Last Best Thing”, the oh-too-short novella by Kate Sebeny.

“You might not want to start the book until tomorrow” says Kate, who lives in Iowa, after I mention it’s evening time in London. “Folks report losing sleep over that story.” Well I immediately had to dive in once I’d heard that, hoping that Kate made as good a writer as she does a salesperson! After reading over half the story in one go I can see her point. The plot is not particularly action-packed, and the dialogue is folksy and familiar. Yet it’s the characters and their interactions that keep you reading. We should all be so lucky to find ourselves friends with such a warm cast of characters when we’re older, grouped together in a pithily-phrased “home away from the old folks home”. The titular “last best thing” hits fairly early on in the story, and gives you real pause for thought on your own mortality and an urge to Google your country’s euthanasia laws.

If there were a complaint to be had with this book, it’s that there’s simply not enough of it. The characters are introduced, you fall in love with them; the plots are set up, you’re eager to follow them through. Then without warning the story skips forward months at a time and you’re left playing catch up and feeling sorely left out! I was desperate to be included more in the group’s day to day life, but I felt I was left on the outside in the Iowa dust wondering what happened.

There’s real potential here for this novella to become a full blown novel. However, it is damn near perfect as it is: a bite-size treat of thought provoking escapism to the American Midwest.

You can learn more about the lovely and talented Kate Sebeny at her website

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