What Is the End of Happiness?
“The End of Happiness” is the third book of Dr. George Waiter’s Ten Things You Must Know before You Die series, and it continues the tale of Max and girlfriend Beth, as they try to survive a car accident that leaves them damaged and without any memory of the accident itself. It’s an interesting premise, considering what the title suggests: is there a point beyond death? And if so, how can we go about avoiding it, or at least making sure it doesn’t happen to us? In short, the answer is that life itself is full of unpleasant surprises, so the key to surviving these is preparation. Preparing for the things you don’t want to happen, and believing, holding onto the hope that they won’t happen. But is this really possible?
We see throughout the series that Max and Beth are determined to make amends for their mistakes, both in their lives and in their relationship. In “The End of Happiness,” we see just how willing they are to forgive and make amends – but do these actions go beyond forgiveness and reconciliation? There’s a moment near the end of the novel where we think they’ve finally achieved it, when they remember their promises to each other and renew their vows. Then they’re on their way… but what happened to their happiness?
Max and Beth are trapped between life and death, and while the end of life may seem inevitable as they’re drifting away from each other, it actually presents them with opportunities they may not have thought of before. In the final pages, we meet Beth’s parents, who appear to accept her as a fully fledged human being, and then turn their backs on her because they aren’t fully satisfied with her – but are this the end of happiness we all seek? The End of Happiness offers some smart answers about happiness and what may come between you and that happiness. For me, the most interesting questions arise when we consider what happiness means for each of us. While I won’t give any actual answers here, I will say that the end of life certainly offers those who escape it with both grace and dignity a chance to start again, to redefine themselves, and to find their place in the world.