Review: The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strasser

Title: The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 344 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A musician facing the untimely end of his career. An end-of-life doula with everything, and nothing, to lose. A Star Is Born meets Me Before You in this powerful novel by the author of A Million Reasons Why.

As an end-of-life doula, Nova Huston’s job—her calling, her purpose, her life—is to help terminally ill people make peace with their impending death. Unlike her business partner, who swears by her system of checklists, free-spirited Nova doesn’t shy away from difficult clients: the ones who are heartbreakingly young, or prickly, or desperate for a caregiver or companion.

When Mason Shaylor shows up at her door, Nova doesn’t recognize him as the indie-favorite singer-songwriter who recently vanished from the public eye. She knows only what he’s told her: That life as he knows it is over. His deteriorating condition makes playing his guitar physically impossible—as far as Mason is concerned, he might as well be dead already.

Except he doesn’t know how to say goodbye.

Helping him is Nova’s biggest challenge yet. She knows she should keep clients at arm’s length. But she and Mason have more in common than anyone could guess… and meeting him might turn out to be the hardest, best thing that’s ever happened to them both.

The Next Thing You Know is an emotional, resonant story about the power of human connection, love when you least expect it, hope against the odds, and what it really takes to live life with no regrets.


The Next Thing You Know by Jessica Strawser is a bittersweet novel of friendship, family and healing.

End-of-life doula Nova Huston’s methods are sometimes unorthodox, but they usually yield the desired results. She becomes close to many of her clients and she feels their losses deeply. Nova is willing to work with the hard cases so her friend Kelly Monroe, who also owns the business, quickly passes new client, thirty-six-year-old Mason Shaylor to her. Nova immediately realizes that Mason is going to be a difficult case but will she be able to help him come to terms with what lies ahead of him?

Mason is an indie musician whose hard work has just paid off when he realizes he should not have put off seeing a doctor for concerning symptoms. He is hoping an end-of-life doula will be able to help him make peace with everything he is losing. Mason resists most of Nova’s advice but once she meets him on his terms, he begins to make a little progress. With Nova becoming more involved with easing him through the various steps, they begin to blur the lines between end-of-life doula and client. Will her laidback approach to following the business’s usual guidelines eventually come back to haunt her?

Weaving back and forth in time, The Next Thing You Know is a deeply affecting story of hope, love and loss. Nova is an appealing woman who is trying to live life on her own terms. She is caring, compassionate and very intuitive about the people she works with. Mason is quite taciturn and very stubborn yet there is no doubt he is an immensely gifted musician.  The storyline is poignant and deals with death in frank yet sensitive manner.  The multiple points of view are easy to follow and assist in telling the whole story. With a final heartrending revelation, Jessica Strawser brings this heartfelt novel to a tear-inducing conclusion.

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