• Should We Stay or Should We Go

  • A Novel
  • By: Lionel Shriver
  • Narrated by: Hannah Curtis
  • Length: 10 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When her father dies, Kay Wilkinson can’t cry. Over 10 years, Alzheimer’s had steadily eroded this erudite man into a paranoid lunatic. Surely one’s own father passing should never come as such a relief. 

Both medical professionals, Kay and her husband Cyril have seen too many elderly patients in similar states of decay. Although healthy and vital in their early 50s, the couple fears what may lie ahead. Determined to die with dignity, Cyril makes a modest proposal. To spare themselves and their loved ones such a humiliating and protracted decline, they should agree to commit suicide together once they’ve both turned 80. When their deal is sealed, the spouses are blithely looking forward to another three decades together. 

But then they turn 80. 

By turns hilarious and touching, playful and grave, Should We Stay or Should We Go portrays 12 parallel universes, each exploring a possible future for Kay and Cyril. Were they to cut life artificially short, what would they miss out on? Something terrific? Or something terrible? Might they end up in a home? A fabulous luxury retirement village, or a Cuckoo’s Nest sort of home? Might being demented end up being rather fun? What future for humanity awaits - the end of civilization, or a Valhalla of peace and prosperity? What if cryogenics were really to work? What if scientists finally cure aging?

Both timely and timeless, Lionel Shriver addresses serious themes - the compromises of longevity, the challenge of living a long life and still going out in style - with an uncannily light touch. Weaving in a host of contemporary issues, from Brexit and mass migration to the coronavirus, Shriver has pulled off a rollicking pause-resister in which we never have to mourn perished characters, because they’ll be alive and kicking in the very next chapter.

©2021 Lionel Shriver (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Should We Stay or Should We Go

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Innovative storyline

Captivating book which delivers many things to think about as we all travel down the path to deterioration.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not her best

I usually love anything by Lionel Shriver, but this one is a bit too intent on delivering a message rather than providing entertainment. I actually agree with the viewpoint sh is trying to convey, but I was looking for a good story, not a treatise on end of life decision making.

3 people found this helpful

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perfectly lovely diversion

perfectly lovely to listen to while knitting, walking, etc. I'm not much of a serious reviewer, though I was turned on to Lionel Shriver recently, and I will continue to work through her collection. So far I've read we need to talk about Kevin, the post birthday world, So much for that, and now this. I'm glad to know that I still have quite a few works to go through.

2 people found this helpful

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Wistful story about a serious topic

Nicely woven tapestry about life and death. All the alternate endings are combined in the final chapter


2 people found this helpful