Cover Image: How Not to Die Alone

How Not to Die Alone

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Member Reviews

This book was quirky, sad and absolutely lovely. It's a portrait of a man named Andrew who (sometimes to his knowledge and sometimes not) yearns for a better life, works a very sad job and is extremely lonely. Then he meets Peggy, and his world turns upside down in good ways and bad. I was expecting this to be a love story, but it's so much more -- it's a story of resilience, owning up to your mistakes and facing life's problems head on. A great read!
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Andrew is a 40-something UK government employment whose job it is to go into the homes of deceased people who died alone (and, in many cases, weren’t found for days, weeks or even months) to look for any evidence of family or friends and finances to cover the cost of the funeral. If that weren’t depressing enough, he’s also living a lie: that he has a wife and kids at home in a lovely townhouse. His reality is that he lives alone in a shabby walk-up flat with only his model trains, fellow online enthusiasts, and Ella Fitzgerald recordings for company. When new employee Peggy joins him on his visits, a friendship develops with stirrings of romantic feelings, but Andrew will need to decide if he will perpetuate the lie or risk losing Peggy’s affection by telling the truth. 

This is truly a dark comedy with gallows humor and central themes of death, PTSD, loneliness, emotional abuse, and deceit. Although depression makes it exceedingly difficult, Andrew learns that there are potential friends all around if he is willing and able to reach out to them. The ending was rather abrupt, and the mystery of Andrew’s downstairs female neighbor with the lovely perfume is inconclusive which will leave readers to wonder why she’s even present in the book. Triggers: depression, death, and PTSD.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from G. P. Putnam's Sons through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
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A very quirky but a bit sad book. I normally don't read books by or about men but this one had a lot of well-developed characters and the women seemed to be actual people. The book was darker and heavier than I felt like the cover and description suggested.
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Thanks for my copy of How Not to Die Alone! 

I initially had a hard time getting into the book. It was initially difficult understanding the office dynamics, employees, and the character development of the protagonist, Andrew. 

Once the new employee Peggy was hired, we start to learn the heartache that Andrew has been carrying with him. We also eventually learn why Andrew made up his imaginary family and why he longs to have the connection of a real family.

Between the grief, there were many laughs and moments of joy that made this book stand out among others.

I would definitely recommend this book to others!
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I thought this was a cute book. It was definitely funny, which was cool since Andrew's job was so grim. I couldn't really understand some of the choices Andrew made, but I think he definitely evolved as a character throughout the book. It was a fun read.
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I absolutely ADORED everything about this book. The gist of this is that Andrew has a job that is not the most uplifting, he searches for the next of kin for those who die alone. Oftentimes that means going into the home when the body is still in there and it’s not pretty. Andrew’s personal life has been kind of a mess as well, really since he was a kid, and for once he just wanted to seem normal. So, when he was interviewing for this job, and the interviewer asked about his family, the words just came out and he might have accidentally made one up. As in, he made up a wife and kids when there are none.

Haven’t we all been there to some extent? I get that it’s maybe not to this extreme, but when someone puts us on the spot, we might say something unexpected. A white lie if you will.  But my gosh, Andrew goes all in with this, because when he is prepared to start this job and tell his boss he didn’t know what he was thinking, events spiral and he just goes with it, thinking eh, personal and professional worlds won’t ever cross. Right? Riggghhht. WELL, IN COMES PEGGY. And OH MYLANTA she is as quirky as he is, and she rocks Andrews world. They become fast friends, and he starts feeling supes guilty for this tangled web he has woven but doesn’t know how to possibly get out of it. Peggy has her own issues as well, but this pair, I could not love them more!

Andrew grows so much as a person throughout this book as he deals with his current situation, as well as his past, and getting to watch that journey is BEYOND endearing. On the surface, this all probably sounds like what in the heck is going on, but I promise it is the sweetest, most heartfelt thing you could read. I literally wanted to put Andrew in my pocket the entire time. 

This just came out in late May, and I do not think it has gotten the attention it deserves, but I will go so far as to say this will be a top 10 read for me this year. Ok, I will stop raving, but really, add this one to your list!!!

Thank you to NetGalley and Putnam books for the free copy to review. All opinions above are my own.
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Unique story. Well written with well fleshed out characters that seemed real and likeable, even the ones that you first dislike. Andrew’s transition throughout the book was extremely relatable.
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Have you ever been stuck in a situation by your own white lie?

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper is about Andrew, a middle aged man who searches for the next of kin of the recently deceased. He spends most of his time alone with his Ella Fitzgerald records. Andrew has told his co-workers that he is married with two children and it's getting harder to maintain the lie. When a new co-worker, Peggy, enters his life, Andrew has to decide whether he going to tell the truth about his imaginary family.

Andrew seems like a decent guy who got mixed up in telling this weird lie. I really wanted him to be able to move on and have a relationship with Peggy. Peggy also has an alcoholic husband. So there's another hurdle that Andrew needs to clear before he can even think about dating Peggy.

I wondered how the office would deal with the situation. Would he be fired for making up a family? Is Andrew's lie worse than the co-worker with terrible hygiene and manners? It probably isn't. 

If you've ever had a co-worker with bad hygiene or manners- body odor, terrible breath, licking their fingers while eating etc. -  then you know.  (Licking your fingers while eating might not be bad manners, just irritating. So gross.) Lies are terrible but smelling bad in close quarters with other people is something difficult to deal with. 

This book was funny and also had some more poignant moments. Once I got past the part with the finger licking co-worker, it was worth the read.
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I'm supposed to let you guys know that I got a copy of this on NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinions. But...I've been a little slack on my netgalley reviews and I ended up just purchasing this book on my own and then reading it. So there....

This book was not what I expected. I read the cover and it was giving me rom-com vibes. Dude makes us a fake wife and kids to fit in at work and then when a fun new coworker comes on board he starts regretting his lie. I mean, that screams rom-com right?! So, like I said it's not a rom-com...not really. If you go into this book expecting rainbows and kitties, you will end up crying in the fetal position while listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing Blue Moon. Trust me, I may be speaking from experience. 
This book is dark. DARK!...but also beautiful. It's a story that teaches you never to stop living. Not holding on to the past. Yeah, it's hell to move passed certain things in life but that's life. And what's the point in living if you
I sound like an inspirational poster but honestly, this book is really inspirational. It makes you want to put yourself out there. Expose yourself and LIVE!
Also, let's take a second to talk about the humor in this book. So far I've mentioned how this book is dark and I also mentioned the whole "you may be crying in the corner" part but you should also know, this book has fantastic quirky moments that will have you cackling to yourself while your face is shoved deep in the pages. A certain bus scene still makes me smirk. Although this book is dealing with some very serious issues, the way Roper sprinkled in his well timed humor made it easier.
I can't tell you all how much I really enjoyed this book. This is one where all the quote saying, "read this if you like that" was right. I can't tell you how many books I've read that have compared themselves to another book I liked/loved and yet left me with nothing but meh feelings. However, If you were a fan of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you will most likely enjoy this one as I was correct, in my opinion.
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A wonderfully written, often laugh out loud jaunt of a novel. A rare feel good novel that has character depth and insight. I loved this story for all that it delivered. Fantastic!
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This was just a lovely book. Charming, sweet, loved the characters, and the message.

If you're looking for some UpLit, this is it!
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Writing: 4.5/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 5/5

Loved this book!

Andrew Smith works in Death Administration.  His unenviable (and often malodorous) job:  property inspections of the recently deceased to find funds or friends to help the local council escape paying for the obligatory “Public Health Funeral.” He feels compassion for those dying in such lonely ways — possibly because he is heading that way himself.  His own social connections consist of a distant sister, an anonymous group of online train enthusiasts, and a very comforting, but completely imaginary, wife and children.  When he has a chance to make a real friend, he struggles with how to extricate himself from this long-lived and thoroughly detailed fabrication.  

This is a feel-good book about friendship, connection, and how people get lost … and found again.  Effortlessly great writing (at least it appears effortless).  I particularly enjoyed the ambient social commentary and the interactions between good characters.

One of the few books compared to Eleanor Oliphant that actually deserves the comparison.

A few writing samples:
“He’d thought having only just turned forty-two he’d have a few more years before he began accompanying minor physical tasks by making odd noises, but it seemed to be the universe’s gentle way of telling him that he was now officially heading toward middle age.”

“Andrew could think of many things he’d rather be doing that evening — most of them involving his testicles, some jam and some aggrieved hornets — but he suddenly felt a rather strong urge not to disappoint Peggy.”

“When it came to model trains, one of the most satisfying simple things Andrew had learned was that the more you ran a locomotive, the better it performed. With repeated use, an engine starts to glide around the track, seeming to grow in efficiency with every circuit.  When it came to making connections with people, however, he was less of a smoothly running locomotive and more a rail replacement bus rusting in a rest stop.”

“After said shunt finally materialized, Andrew and Peggy hauled their bags off the train along with a few hundred other passengers traveling back that Saturday whose phasers were all set to “grumble,” only to be elevated to “strongly worded letter” when they were told it would be forty minutes before a replacement train could get there.”

“His shoes were well-polished but starting to look worn. Too many nicks from churchyard gravel, too many times the leather had strained where he’d curled his toes at a vicar’s verbal stumble.”
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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars

I found this book to actually become more enjoyable the more I read, and I even enjoyed the ending. Andrew, the main character, is certainly quirky and suffers an unexplained dark past. In the beginning and middle, I found myself frustrated with him at times. However, as the story continues its difficult not to have sympathy for him and his attempts at growth. I also enjoyed Peggy’s character, and I wish we could have gotten more insight into Sally’s character, who seemed underdeveloped for me.

Overall, while I hesitate to call this a feel good book, if does have its heartwarming moments, and reminds us of the power of human connection.
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This was a heartwarming and fascinating read about a topic I've never considered before- what happens to people after they die if they don't have any family or close friends. Though the job is depressing, it makes for some interesting situations. The characters were realistic and went through a lot of great development over the course of the story. Andrew is a loner at the beginning of the story- with only online friends in model train forums, but when Peggy comes to the office, she changes his entire view of life. The friendship between the two is cute and the storyline is unique.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for the opportunity to read and review this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
I found this book to be good, 3 stars.  It wasn't a 5 star book that leaves me wanting more and not a 4 star that I felt was great.  It was a good idea for a story.   Andrew has a job that leads him to rummage through homes of dead people to see if he can find any connections to living people that might pay for the funeral.  It is thought provoking as Andrew is constantly reminded that he is utterly alone in life and he doesn't want to die alone.  The characters were interesting yet not exciting, mostly boring but realistic.  I liked this book because it made me think about my life and the lives of people who don't have a family or friends.  It pulled on my sympathetic heart strings.  
The story moved along at a steady pace and picked up speed late in the book, having me rooting for Andrew to break through his boredom.  The ending was satisfying although it did leave us wondering about his relationship status.
I would recommend this book to readers of Contemporary Fiction and some Romance.
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This was a slow build in the best way. I wasn't super into the book originally, but then two nights in a row I stayed up past 1 AM reading and it was then I realized how great this book is. It is well written and engaging. Definitely a good book that pulls you in slowly until you can't put it down.
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A biting yet bright, British look at life and death, love and happiness, and all the spaces in between. 

Roper moves this debut novel along at a nice clip, quickly unfurling the story of Andrew, a nerdy, anti Briget Jones, who is lonely of his own choosing. Andrew’s employer, a mysterious Council, pricked at something in the back of my mind that kept echoing a bit of Orwell’s 1984 and protagonist Winston Smith. But unlike Winston, Andrew is wound up in a predicament of his own making, which is only compounded by his active imagination throwing up traps, real and imagined, around every corner. As an added bonus, a bit of a domestic mystery weaves its way throughout the story. When it’s resolved, the reveal is right there as plain as the nose on your face, yet it left me shaking my head because I hadn’t seen it earlier on my own. That to me is a sign of good writing.
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This book reminded me of a male version of "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine." The book was just ok for me. I didn't feel invested in the characters. Andrew's lie at work was painful to keep up with, and the unveiling of said lie seemed far-fetched.
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The synopsis to “How to Not Die Alone” by Richard Roper pulled me in when it said it was perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine ( which was my favorite read of 2018). I kind of had some expectations in my head based on this comparison. With this being said, this book was depressing. Andrew lives his life working a job that requires him to be there for people that died alone. I won’t go into detail. With all this said, I enjoyed this book. As someone who often wonders about their own mortality, this book really made me think about my own life a little bit. I know earlier I said this was a depressing book but let me also add there were some truly hilarious moments as well. This was a heavy read at times. Overall, it was a good read and I can see how there were some comparisons between the books. I will be sure to check out more from this author in the future. 3.5 stars

* I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
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How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper is a very highly recommended quirky, delightful, funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful debut novel. Yeah, ALL the emotions are here in this debut novel that had me entrenched and invested from beginning to end.

Andrew, 42, has a public health job at the Death Administration department that few people could do, let alone with the compassion Andrew shows. He enters the homes of deceased individuals who died alone and searches for some evidence of a next of kin or assets that will provide the ability to cover the burial costs. He also attends the funeral services, often as the only mourner present. Co-workers think he goes home each night to a loving wife and two children, but that is not the case. When applying for the job years earlier a misunderstanding led to the lie and he has found it easier to perpetuate it. His only friends are members of a private group on an online model train forum. His only relative is an older sister who he only talks to on the phone a few times a year.

When Peggy joins the department and Andrew and Peggy begin to form a friendship and connection. A relationship would be impossible. Peggy is in a troubled marriage, but she believes Andrew also is married. Then, when his boss decides that each member of the team will now host a monthly dinner at their home, Andrew is in a tough position. If he confesses and tells the truth now, he could lose everything, but if doesn't he could lose any chance of happiness.
The characters are all well-developed, flawed, and realistic. Andrew is a kind, awkward, and lonely man, who is still suffering from past traumas that the reader will not know all the details of until the end - and then everything in the story falls into place. In the narrative, most of his problems all seem to be self-inflicted, serving to keep Andrew safe, but lonely. Peggy is actually good for Andrew, making him open himself up to new experiences. If Andrew can take a risk, he may be able to make some personal connections, and find a chance at happiness.

The writing is excellent and the narrative is well-paced. Roper does an incredible job introducing new information and developing the plot and characters slowly to the reader, until a big final reveal at the end. How Not to Die Alone is much funnier and more poignant than any description could do justice to. In spite of the fact that Peggy is married, you will be rooting for these two. I didn't jump up to the five stars until the end, although I also talked back about the very final denouement in regards to his job.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
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