He was just stupidly happy that she was there now at his side knowing everything there was to know about him. That, he realized, was more than enough. -Richard Roper, How Not to Die Alone
I finished Richard Roper’s debut novel, “How Not to Die Alone.” It was a smart book with some interesting twists.
His use of stream of consciousness to weave in the past in with the present was masterful. There was several moments where the story completely surprises you. After reading the first ten chapters of so over a few days, I found that I couldn’t put the book down. I raced through the remaining two-thirds of the novel in a day.
The themes of the book mostly revolve around grief and recovery. The protagonist loses everyone closest to him and the story follows his grieving process of ups and downs. His grieving is overlaid on his position with the state of searching for a will and next of kin for the deceased who were alone and forgotten.
The saddest part of the story serves as a warning to readers about unforgiveness and not working towards reconciliation with loved ones when disagreements arise. Most of the deceased have a falling out with an important person in their lives and neither party makes the effort to restore the relationship and then end of them passes away and is gone forever.
The book’s by-line is “It’s never to late to start living.” It’s wise advice and the story of Andrew’s life. Grief has caused his life to stall out before it has started. The pain has reduced his life to safety that he can control and avoid future hurt. But that kind of living is so much less than each person was meant to be.