by Kimberly Packard
Publisher: Abalos Publishing
Publication Date: March 23, 2021
Pages: 326 Pages
Categories: Action & Adventure / Contemporary / Women’s Fiction
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Dying isn’t just hard on the ones left behind, the regret of unfinished lives weighs heavily on the terminally ill. That’s where Dire’s Club steps in, a specialty travel agency that takes a small group of dying people on one final adventure-so they can be free of guilt, be more than a diagnosis, and find a way to confront life … and death.
Life Coach Charlotte Claybrooke built a successful second career guiding people out of grief, but the impending tenth anniversary of her own heart-wrenching tragedy sets her on a journey to find life among the dying.
Staring death in the face was Jimmy Dire’s business. He met it with a warm hug, a kind word, and a smile. Dire’s Club gave the terminally ill one final, bucket-list adventure before passing on, but dying was expensive. The bills, like Jimmy’s lies, were piling up. It’s only a matter of time before he’s forced to face a different type of death.
A rock god, a telenovela star, a grandmother living her life-long dream, and a young tech genius round out this group of strangers facing death together. But when tragedy strikes, their bond is shattered. Lies and fraud surface, forcing the dying to come together to save someone’s life.
Everybody dies. The lucky ones have fun doing it.
The main plot of this book centers around the members of the group that take this Dire’s Club trip and how their lives get bound together with many threads of entanglement. Some good, and some not so good, but always with a growing sense of loyalty, even though that loyalty is tested at times. Just when I thought the story might go in one direction in terms of how different relationships were playing out, the author would surprise me. That was such an honest, and delightful, way to handle life and love and romance and expectations.
In the process of fulfilling a dying wish, each of the characters discovers a truth about themselves and more courage than they thought they had. Jimmy and Charlotte had the most complications to unravel, and the way their story arcs played out was most satisfying. It was especially refreshing that Charlotte didn’t depend on romance, or a man, to give her a reason to live, and her special relationship with Levi, the rock star was wonderful.
Within this wonderful cast of characters, I really liked Darla. When I first saw her name I had to chuckle because I have a good friend named Darla. My friend has never danced in exotic clubs, at least as far as I know, but she is a wonderful actress and we’ve had many fun times on stage together. I really liked Darla’s sense of humor, her loyalty to Jimmy, and her devotion to her mother. When she’s considering how she can squeeze the Dire’s Club budget in order to get a raise to pay for her mother to stay in a nice nursing home, Darla considers selling her plasma. “Minimalist living was all the rage these days. Plasma. She probably had plenty of it. Couldn’t think of anything she needed it for. She could sell it. To someone who does need plasma. For plasma-y things. Whatever those were. Did they use human plasma for plasma TVs? Living a plasma-less life would be pretty minimalistic.”
After Darla visits a less expensive nursing home and discovers how horrible conditions are there, she decides that if she can’t get Jimmy to give her a raise she’ll do anything to raise the money, “Plasma. Kidney. Her body. Her soul. It didn’t matter what she had to sell, Darla wouldn’t let her mother end up in a place like that.”
While the storyline revolves around the topic of death that’s so difficult for us to look at, or talk about, this book is also very much about life.
And how we live until that final day that we do not take another breath. Bucket lists are not just a fad.
So often when people get a diagnosis of a terminal illness, everything around them becomes about dying. Suddenly a bright and vibrant life turns into a sad, depressing journey toward the end. It doesn’t have to be that way, and this fictional club offers to those fictional people the same opportunity for joy that Make-a-Wish provides to children who have a terminal illness.
We can all take away lessons from this story and start thinking about how much we should celebrate and enjoy our life as long as we have it. And if we should ever be diagnosed with a terminal illness, maybe we can create our own Dier’s Club adventure.
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