Book Review: so much for that by Lionel Shriver

March 17, 2011

I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour promotion.
The publisher has made available one (1) copy of “so much for that” to be given out- enter at the end of the post

My rating for so much for that – 5

About:
“so much for that” by Lionel Shriver is a fictional book about serious matters. The book deals with the frustration and the unfairness of dealing with the US healthcare industry.

    480 pages

  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN: 0061458597

Purchase “so much for that” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on:
Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK

Thoughts:
“so much for that” by Lionel Shriver a tough book to read because of the subject matter, however it is well written, interesting and hard to put down.

Shep, the protagonist, has been saving money all his life in order to retire to a small African island named Pemba where the cost of living is minuscule, that is until his wife got cancer and Shep started to see his life savings of more then $800,000 dwindle away to nothing.
And Shep has health insurance.

Shep’s best friend, Jackson who has his own sick daughter and is also working for health insurance. Jackson’s world is divided between those who take (anyone who is on the government payroll in some form) and those who give (everyone who is not on the government’s payroll but pay taxes).
His political tirades were some of the interesting points in the book.

Shep’s life is full with “moochers” (those who take according to Jackson), his father, a minister, never saved enough to retire, his sister is self centered and expects him to bail her out by “loaning” her money. Shep’s daughter is going to college, his son is in private high-school and Shep’s wife got a low paying job because, during a fight, he told her she is not contributing.  The minor characters are interesting but not very realistic – however they do make the point.

This book hit me very personally on several levels.
First, my father, who passed away in December, has cancer for the last two years of his life – which was a real harsh lesson on what “health coverage” really mean. My dad was a small business owner who paid boat loads of money, out of pocket, into the health care system and got very little in return (he didn’t get sick often).

Luckily he and my mom moved out of the house they lived in for almost 30 years and into a 55+ complex, which they paid cash – otherwise they would have lost their home. His medication cost $7,000 a month, his insurance paid 50%.
Can you afford a $3,500 monthly bill for one type of medication?

They basically had to show income of less than $1,000 a month in order to survive.

This taught us a painful lesson – don’t get sick unless you are very rich or very poor. Even with health insurance you are likely to go bankrupt, lose your personal fortune and everything you worked to acquire your whole life.

Second, living in New Jersey, possibly the most corrupt state in the union where people who own their homes outright are being evicted because the preposterous property taxes – Jackson’s diatribes hit a sore spot.

We pay the highest personal taxes in the nation where 50% of them goes to somebody’s pocket (corruption tax), 25% are wasted (as per the state’s comptroller) and the other 25%, the money used to run the state, is still four times higher than other states.

As you can tell, I truly enjoyed this book. It is very thought provoking and I highly recommend it to book clubs everywhere.

Synopsis:
Shep Knacker has worked hard all his life and pinched every penny to retire in an idyllic third world country where his money could last him forever.  Glynis, Shep’s wife, always found some excuse whey “now” is not the right time to go.  Shep had had enough and he announces that he is leaving with or without Glynis.

But Glynis found out she has cancer and Shep puts his plans aside while his bank account starts dropping like a stone.

Purchase “so much for that” through the ManOfLaBook affiliate account on:
Amazon |Book Depository US | Book Depository UK

Giveaway

Rules:

  • Contest is for one (1) new copy of “so much for that”.
  • There will be ONE (1) WINNER
  • Must be a US / Canada mailing Address
  • Ends Thursday March 24, 2011
  • Winners will be chosen using Random.org
  • Winners will have 24 hours after my initial contact to write back their mailing address, otherwise alternate winners will be picked

Congratulations: bookquoter@
TLC Book Tour for “so much for that”:

Tuesday, March 15th: In the Next Room
Wednesday, March 16th: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, March 17th: Man of La Book
Monday, March 21st: The Brain Lair
Monday, March 21st: Life Is A Patchwork Quilt
Wednesday, March 23rd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, March 24th: Stephanie’s Written Word
Friday, March 25th: Colloquium
Monday, March 28th: A Certain Bent Appeal
Tuesday, March 29th: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, March 30th: Raging Bibliomania

 

Zohar – Man of la Book

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19 Comments

  • Michelle @ The True Book Addict March 17, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I know exactly what you mean. I’m a stay at home mom (have been, on and off for 9 years) so we only have one income coming in. My son takes an expensive medication and even with insurance, it is still almost too much to afford every month. Years ago, we tried to get insurance with the government because my husband’s insurance was costing us so much money weekly, but we couldn’t get it because you can’t if you’re offered insurance through your work, even if it’s too much to afford. It’s just crazy! This sounds like a thought provoking book.

    • zohar March 17, 2011 at 8:42 pm

      We also have one income coming in and some months we are in the red just due to co-pays.

  • bookspersonally March 17, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Sounds frustrating, and eye-opening!

  • Courtney Rene March 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Sounds like a very emotional read from all points. Thanks for the great review.

    ctny

  • Carol Wong March 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I know what you mean too. I have Sarcoidosis which can be very bad but I also have MGUS which might turn into Multiple Myeloma. I looked up the cost of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants and there is no way that we could afford them even with insurance. I also found out that if you contact some of the cancer websites, there is a way to get some financial help but it is difficult.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

  • SharonHenning March 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I’m glad to see people attacking this dilemma. I used to live in NJ but moved to Texas because I couldn’t afford to live there anymore. I also hope that we can reform healthcare in a way that forces it to be competitive (not socialized or monopolized like it is now) and brings healthcare costs down.
    Excellent review.

    • zohar March 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. We’re actually moving out of NJ as well. It physically hurts me to write out that tax check every month knowing half of it goes to somebody’s pocket.

  • Suzanne March 17, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I really must read this book. I am Canadian by birth, now a naturalized US citizen and I see the health care issue in a different light from those who are only on one side of the fence as it were. There are goods and bads to both types of health care coverage.
    That said, my dad has been dealing with major health issues in the past few years (and thankfully has come through them) but because he lives in Canada he has not had to pay for any of his treatments. I am certain that if he were living in the United States, he and my mother would have had to declare bankruptcy to afford the same treatments, or go without them.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your father.

    • zohar March 17, 2011 at 8:31 pm

      Hi Suzanne, hope your father gets better. I think most people in the US don’t realize that even though we pay premium prices for health care, we are not “really” covered.

  • Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours March 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

    It’s hard to read books like this especially when they hit so close to home. I think you are right that this would be a great book for a book club – there is so much in here to discuss.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  • mummazappa March 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    The premise of this book absolutely blows my mind, I’m from Australia where essential medical care is provided by the government. I dread to think of all the family members I would have lost or would be left utterly destitute if we didn’t have this system. Yes, it is expensive, but I can’t think of anything better for my taxes to be spent on than providing people with the means to have their health taken care of and be financially protected. It’s very difficult for me to fathom that people would ever be against this kind of system – denying people appropriate medical care simply because they can’t afford it is gobsmackingly evil IMO.

    • zohar March 19, 2011 at 8:13 am

      The people in the US are against social health care not without good reason. Everything the government touches seems, from some reason, turn from good to bad. Mostly because our politicians put unqualified people in key positions as was proved by hurricane Katarina.

      The good people here are also being manipulated by politicians whose number one priority is being re-elected and getting “campaign donations” (a legalized form of bribery) and the “good of the people” is far, far down the list. Of course “for profit” sick care doesn’t help.

      When you get a chance look at rescission – when health insurance companies drop coverage, out of the blue, for those who need most of their care even though they have been paying into the system for decades.

  • Aths March 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    My brother was in hospital last year, and we had our own crash course on “health coverage”. Although his insurance covered a lot (he is a student), the bills were still horrendous. The whole system is poorly structured.

    I really really want to read this author’s book – any book. Thanks for this review.

  • Stephanie March 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    First, thanks so much for stopping by my book blog! I’m in NJ too (the northern part of the state that got a decent amount of snow today) so totally understand your statements regarding the corrupt state in which we live.

    I also recently lost both my parents (my father just this past January – who died unexpectedly in his sleep – and my Mother almost 3 years ago after a long illness) so I am aware of the really rough health care system in this country. I am also a breast cancer survivor and cannot tell you how many hours my poor husband would spend on the phone with insurance companies when I was going through treatment. It was unbelievable!

    Anyway, I’m glad you got more out of the book than I did (and love to read other people’s opinions on books, even the ones I don’t particularly like)!

  • Colleen March 26, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I must read this book – I am an avid follower of the health care debate and am interested in seeing how the topic is treated. Sounds like the book really impacted you – I love when I find a book like that!

  • sian April 30, 2011 at 4:02 am

    I’m originally from the Uk and we whinge and moan about the NHS which is an amazing model of public service! Now living in Spain and not sure yet how the health care will work out for us but Shriver’s book does force you into recognising how corrupt and awful the US health system is and how wonderful the NHS is…

  • Bookquoter May 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Sorry it took me a while to read this book that I won from your giveaway, but I am back to say I finally read it and love it. Thanks for the opportunity! I will link your post to mine, if you don’t mind.

    • zohar May 16, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to your post.

  • Serena February 14, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Wow this one hit a lot of buttons for you, so i think this might be a good pick for book club.

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