Tag Archives: Brave books

BOOK REVIEW: This Life I Live by Rory Feek

I didn’t want to read this book.  I first heard about it when I came across an article in a magazine–some Woman’s Day-y type of publication, I think. I read some of the article, thought, “Oh, this is a sad story,” and put it down.

Well, it found me again.

Have you ever noticed how the books you are supposed to read have a way of doing that?

Joey and Rory are famous, but before that magazine article, I had never heard of them. I have since listened to some of their music and it’s beautiful (spoiler alert, this song is heartbreaking), in case you want to check it out.

Anyway, there is a lot of wisdom in this book. Parts of his story parallel my own, and probably your own as well. I relate to Rory talking about his childhood of being from “everywhere and nowhere” and about how “there are different levels of poor”. Moving so often in your growing up years isn’t easy. It certainly can begin to define who you are.

When Rory’s mom goes back to school in her 60’s, she ‘does the thing she thought she could not do’.  This resonated so strongly for me, recalling one of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quotes. It also speaks to one of the themes in this book, brave women, and the author’s respect for them.

My favorite quote from this book is:

“True joy and happiness have a way of attracting good things into your life.” (p 81)

So, I was right. It is a sad story, but it’s also a happy one. Rory tells it with raw honesty, but also with faith and hope. As anyone who has ever written (or tried to write) their life story can attest, this is no easy task. Rory has accomplished it with grace and love.

Read this book.

BOOK REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I read this book at the recommendation of a young lady, Angie, who visited my author table at the Kennebunk Community Market one Saturday.
everything-everythingShe told me that Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was her favorite book. This book says it’s recommended for readers aged 12-17, but I object to narrowing the audience for this book. Anyone of any age could enjoy reading this.

The main character, Maddy, is physically isolated in a way few teenagers are. She is a prisoner on so many levels. This book is not predictable, however. There are surprises to keep your interest.

I had a problem with the nurse, Carla, whom I loved, but she compromised her professional ethics, therefore (in my opinion as a nurse) she deserved what she got.

But it still made me sad. I also didn’t like how the author portrays the other nurse in the book. Don’t even get me started. People! Don’t believe most of the characterizations of nurses you read in books!

Maddy is very lovable until she starts lying to everyone (including herself?) which made me like her much less. Is it acceptable to lie when you believe you are running for your life? I’m not sure. Read it and make up your own mind.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“I am in the world and, too, the world is in me.” -Maddy

“Empty tummy, empty head.” -Carla.

“Be brave. Remember, life is a gift. Live it.” Carla the nurse to Maddy, Disc 3 track 13 on the audio book.

Bottom line: worth reading.

Book Review: Celebrating Death

When I discovered that one of my colleagues wrote a book, I celebrating deathcouldn’t wait to read it.  The book is Celebrating Death: A Guidebook for Dying Well by Esther Shapiro, R.N., Msc.D.

The author comes by her expertise regarding death both personally and professionally, and she generously shares her hard-won insights regarding her experiences from both.

Right from the start, I connected with the stories in this book. When the author describes her NDE (Near Death Experience), I was reminded of my own that occurred when I was four years old, when I almost drowned in the lake. The kids I was playing with kept pushing my head under the water, over and over, until I couldn’t figure out which way was up to get out of the water. And then I stopped trying. I saw a very bright light and felt filled with peace. I was not at all fearful. I was just floating and being…until my dad ran in, fully clothed and still wearing his shoes, and pulled me from the water (full disclosure: I don’t actually remember that part).

The author also shares her experience as a hospice nurse. My own two years as a hospice nurse were bookended by the deaths of first my mother and then my father from cancer, and I share Esther’s dissatisfaction with the allopathic medical model and how cancer patients are treated within it. “But to see the Doctors instilling false hope into both the patient and the family is more than I can handle. And, I am trained and expected to go along with it. It makes me sick inside.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

She also introduces the idea of one’s death experience being on a spectrum from good to bad…to very bad. My own parents’ deaths illustrated this. My mother had the worst death of any that I have ever witnessed, bar none. My father had one of the best.  They both had cancer and died at home with hospice within about two years of their diagnosis, but their outcomes were very different.

The idea of an individual choosing their moment of death is also explored in this book. I believe, as the author does, that we choose our time to go, and it doesn’t matter if there is a 24/7 vigil by the bedside. If the person wants to be alone when they pass, then they will. I further agree with her that children shouldn’t be shielded from death and dying. I practice what I preach; my son went to his first wake when he was about 3 weeks old.
One of the more powerful parts of Celebrating Death is when the author tells a story first from the point of view of the cancer patient, and then from the point of view of the patient’s significant other who, as is so often the case, was also his primary caregiver. I was moved to tears of heartbreak as well as outrage by what happened to them.

So, this sort of became ‘all about me’ here, but this is one of the gifts of this book: it will remind you of, and help you to work through, your own feelings and personal encounters with death. In this way, Celebrating Death can be transformational and healing for you, dear reader.

This belongs on your bookshelf next to your Elisabeth Kubler-Ross volumes. It was an honor and a privilege to read this book.

NOTE: Esther Shapiro’s book Celebrating Death is also available on Kindle.

After you read Esther’s book, read my book, One Brave Thing! On Amazon.com, at your local bookseller, and also on Kindle!

Book Review: The Box of Daughter

I wanted to read Katherine Mayfield‘s book ‘The Box of Daughter‘ for a long time before I finally did. This is one of The Box of Daughterthe few times I knew the author before I knew the book. I met Katherine through a Wells-Ogunquit Adult Education class I took several years ago when I was working on my own novel. If you have ever the opportunity to take a writing class with Katherine, do it. You will love her low pressure and motivating teaching style. She creates a wonderful, safe environment in her classes, such that even I, who was always terrified to share my writing with others, found myself reading aloud to the class an essay that I had just written.

Anyway, I was interested to see how she wrote. I immediately related to Katherine’s childhood and teenage years of family dysfunction, trying to please everyone, and chronic ‘I’m sorry-ing”. The feeling of walking on eggshells at home, trying to keep the peace at all costs is oh-so familiar. Katherine gives an honest account of her life with her brother and her parents which (be forewarned) may bring up some of your own difficult memories as you read.

The belt? Check. Bullying? Check. The shock of seeing your grandmother’s teeth in a glass for the first time? Check.

I love Katherine’s reference (p 98) to looking at life through ‘pain-colored glasses’…right? It wasn’t all bad, though. There was some card playing in the evening. The Youth Group in California. Finding her voice in environments that stifled it.

In the end, Katherine’s book reminded me that, most of the time, our parents were doing the best that they knew how to do.

If you like this book, maybe read my book next: One Brave Thing!

Book Review: What on Earth am I Doing Here?

To be honest, I didn’t want to read this book. Why? Because it’s about a difficult subject: The Holocaust. I have read extensively about this topic, watched movies (okay, with my glasses off for most of them-and I am extremely nearsighted), visited memorials, and discussed it in classes.
I thought I was done.

what on earth am i doing here

 

And then, my husband told me that I should read this book: What on Earth am I Doing Here?  ‘What for?’ I asked. ‘Because it’s good’, he said.’How do you know about it?’ I asked. ‘I know the author,’ he replied.

Dov Ronen

At first, I said, ‘No thank you,’ ever so politely. However, I don’t like to disappoint my husband, so I decided to read it after all.

I couldn’t put it down. I literally read it in one sitting.

This is a seriously important book. I feel it’s sort of male version of The Diary of Anne Frank. It tells the story of one family’s experience surviving the Holocaust from the point of view of a ten-year old boy. It’s sort of cross between a creative memoir and historical fiction. As horrifying and terrifying as it is for me to read about this subject, this book is different. It has the innocence of the perspective of the young boy who is trying to make sense of the impossible, who doesn’t fully know or understand (as if anyone could) what was happening around him. About how they all miraculously survived with the help of brave friends and their mother’s courage, strength, and ingenuity.

Of course, he saw and experienced some terrible things, some of which are described in the book. In the end though, I was left with a hopeful feeling. It’s a story of how every single member of one family survived one of the worst ordeals in the history of the world.

NOTE: I read this book on Mother’s Day. I didn’t really think it was a natural choice for Mother’s Day reading…until I read it. The mother in this book is an amazing woman, and it’s largely due to her that they all made it through.

I have to say it again: THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BOOK. Read it.

After you read this book,  read my book! One Brave Thing