Tag Archives: Cancer

Five Inspirational Books That I Love

This week, one of Mama’s Losin’ It’s writing prompts is “book review”. Also, a few days ago, the Blog Everyday in May prompt was “five books I love”. I don’t participate in Blog Eveyrday in May, since I only discovered it yesterday, but I love to find writing prompts. Therefore, I thought I’d combine the two and list five books I love. As it turns out, all are inspirational books.

1. Preemie Voices by Saroj Saigal (2014). This book is a collection of letters from former preemies, born between 1977 and 1982, that describe their lives now and give hope to parents of today’s premature babies and children. Many years ago, I believe Bill Silverman wrote a book of stories from former preemies titled Small Victories. I could unfortunately not get my hands on this book and am so glad I got my hands on Preemie Voices. It is so validating to know that I’m not alone on this preemie journey, even though it’s a bit annoying that the target audience is parents of today’s preemies.

2. Miracle Survivors by Tami Boehmer (2014). This is Boehmer’s second book of stories from long-term survivors who were said to have incurable cancer. I didn’t read her other book, but I think I’m going to. In Miracle Survivors Boehmer starts by listing characteristics she’s found long-term survivors of thought-to-be-incurable cancer have in common. Each contributor then tells his or her story and ends it with life lessons they’ve learned through their journey with or their overcoming of cancer. Though some people use alternative medicine and claim to have been cured by it, this is not prominently promoted. Above all, the survivors promote being on top of your own care and advocating for yourself. I feel this is an importnat message even to those who are in the healthcare system for other reasons.

3. Angels at Our Table, 2nd edition by Ann Breen (2012). This is a book of stories from parents of children (and some adults) with Williams Syndrome. People with Williams Syndrome usually have an intellectual disability and may have many health problems, but they also commonly have a very sociable personality and cute facial features. Though many families struggled with getting their children properly diagnosed and treated, particularly back when Ann Breen’s daughter was young in the 1980s, the message in the book is one of appreciation. The importance of support is also highlighted, as Ann Breen founded the Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland. I for one happen to actually like inspirational books about people wiht disabilities, so this one is a good one for me.

4. Real Families, Real Stories by Stephanie Sumulong (2014). This is a book of stories from family members of children (and again some adults) with Down Syndrome. The stories are very short, which is a bit disappointing, because i don’t get to get a deeper understanding of these families’ lives. The intention of the book is to celebrate people with Down Syndrome. For this reason, it is also sad that no adults with Down Syndrome were interviewed. However, the stories do cover many aspects of families’ lives with Down Syndrome, including prenatal diagnosis, adoption, the heart defects that commonly occur in Down Syndrome, and sibling perspectives.

5. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries by Amy Newmark, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein and Lee Woodruff (2014). I have not yet finished this book, but so far, it seems wonderful. Having myself acquired possible brain damage shortly after birth, I find the stories of brain injury survivors somewhat relatable, though of course I did not have a life prior to brain damage. A few months ago, I read a Dutch book of stories from people who had invisible disabilities due to brain injury and I loved it. Being Chicken Soup for the Soul, the stories of course have been selected for being inspirational, but so far, it looks like many aspects of life with TBI are covered.

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Book Review: The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla

Since I discovered that Adobe Digital Editions 2.0 is accessible with screen readers, I’ve downloaded a number of ebooks. Most were scientific books, with a few being memoris, and to be honest I until now hadn’t ifnished any. I usually bought my ebooks at Bol.com, the largest online media store in the Netherlands. However, when they switched to an inaccessible bookshelf format for downloading ebooks, I decided to try out Kobo. I also wanted to spread my wings in the reading departmnet, so I decided to check out some juvenile fiction, because I always used to like that better than adult fiction. In fiction, my taste is similar to that in memoirs: the book has to cover medicl, social or psychological issues. The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla seemed to meet that requirement. Besides, it cost only E3,-, so I wouldn’t have wasted a lot of money if it turned out to be crap. In the end, I’m not disappointed at all.

Synopsis

Two teens are forced to make some very grown-up decisions when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer, twisting them into an unpredictable nightmare. Best friends since toddlerhood, Samantha and Jesse grapple with the realization that they are actually in love. What now? Beautifully written while handling a very heavy topic, Castrovilla addresses the universal question: In a world where the worst can strike at any time, how can we ever feel safe?

Review

Reading the first page, I was not thrilled. Was middle grade fiction that simple, or was my English that advanced, it being my second language? Within pages, I had to change my mind on this, because it turned out I didn’t understand some of the more commonly used words – maybe my English isn’t that advanced after all. Even so, the book is quite readable.

The book isn’t too fast-paced, but it doesn’t ge tlong-winded either. I was able to guess pretty soon that Jesse wasn’t going to get a miracle cure fo rhis cancer, but other than that, the book was not predictable at all. I wondered at several points from halfway through the book on whether the end was coming up. I don’t mean this to say the book is boring, but there were several moments at which point Jesse could’ve died and the book would be over.

What I also liked about the book, was that I developed both sympathy for and disgust with almost all characters. For example, Gwen, Jesse’s mother, starts out as a bitch, and I genuinely thought that I’d hate her throughout the book. Gradually, however, I was led to understand her better and in the end, I liked her somewhat. The book is written from Samantha’s point of view, but I believe most characters in fact ar epretty formed.

The topic covered in this book is of course quite sad, but the book didn’t just make me feel sad. I alternated between feeling angry, sad, happy, surprised and a lot of other feelings. In the end, I was left with peace. That is exactly what this book aims to teach.

Book Details

Title: The Girl Next Door
Author: Selene Castrovilla
Publisher: ASD Publishing, Ltd.
Publication date: May 2013