On Their Last Days, They Live Big and Love Big

Adam Silvera

“Live every day as if it were your last.”

Apple founder Steve Jobs recited those words to himself every morning when he looked in the mirror. He knew that if he did this every day, one day he would be right.

In a pair of Adam Silvera novels, three teen-agers get the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing them they are Deckers and are about to die. Death-Cast is a service that offers subscribers the opportunity to learn on the given day that they are going to die within 24 hours.

In They Both Die in the End and its prequel, The First to Die in the End, Silvera knits passionate stories about how these young people spend their last days. They learn that what is important is how they live, not how they die.

I expect most of us have been asked if we would want to know when we are going to die. We all know there is no life without death, but how would it affect our lives if we knew our expiration date? The creator of Death-Cast finds there are unintended consequences of the service he hoped would enrich Deckers’ last hours.

There is also no love without loss. This is a central theme to both books and love binds the characters during intense times filled with tension, joy, discovery, and tragedy.

I am hesitant to say more, fearing I could spoil the enthralling experience ahead of readers of these books. You could say the titles of the books are spoilers in themselves, but I would say these stories survive the titles, even thrive because of them.

Adam Silvera published the prequel in October while I was reading They Both Die in the End, published in 2017. When I finished the “sequel,” I went right to the other book. I was glad I read them in that order.

These books are categorized as young-adult novels, but as with so many in this genre, I think they will appeal to older adults as well. These are the two of the most compelling books I have read in 2022. I look forward to reading more of Silvera’s books.

Anxiety RX: A Powerful Prescription for Healing Your Worries

Put your worrying mind aside and read Anxiety Rx by Russell Kennedy. If you are like me, you will be a changed person long before you read the last page.

Kennedy is a doctor, neuroscientist, developmental psychologist and a professional stand-up comedian, but his words on these pages are no joke.

I highlighted quotes that caused me to stop, ponder, go back, and read again. One stood out:

“I can tell you from personal experience that believing we will be healed by some doctor, treatment, supplement, patch, drug, psychedelic, guided meditation, yoga nidra, hypnosis, meditation, or therapy is a fool’s errand.”

He is not against these strategies, though. He has tried many of them himself. So what does he propose? He writes that you can best heal anxiety by finding its source: your body, not your mind. When you find yourself in “alarm,” or worrying, go directly to your body, find where the alarm is. Kennedy proposes embracing the child in us. The child who was scarred. He describes a series of methods to connect with the places where our bodies feel the worry and heal the old wounds by being kind to ourselves.

“The leap of faith comes when your adult self opens the chest, pulls out your innocent child self, and fully accepts, embraces, and loves them,” he advises.

The cure is not easy, Kennedy writes. Worry is an addiction, “rewarding you with dopamine each time you do it.” But regular attention to the alarm in your body is the best way out.

Some readers might criticize Anxiety Rx for being repetitive, but I found that quality to be a strength.

Kennedy’s story is personal. His father lived a life of mental illness, eventually committing suicide. The author carries guilt about how he used to feel embarrassed by his dad.

Feel free to share your thoughts about his book here.