Diagnosed at age 40 with a rare form of cancer, a writer and mother recounts the medical, familial and personal challenges of facing a life-threatening condition.
While some authors face their situation with an arsenal of rage and dark, pointed humor—see Katherine Russell Rich’s The Red Devil (1999)—debut author Host writes about her illness with the nuanced grace of a poet whose perspective extends beyond her own experience, including the anguish of watching her family navigate immense upheaval as she struggles to overcome the ravages of carcinoid cancer. The author weaves creative metaphor into her harsh reality, striking a balance between hardship and revelation. The chapters—e.g., “Fear,” “Drought,” “Letting Go”—chronicle the phases of the process, carrying readers through reflections on the past, worries about the future and turmoil of the present while revealing an impressive generosity of spirit and surprisingly minimal anger. In “Forgiveness,” the author equates that sentiment with “finding the right lid for a jar. It is not complicated, but it is satisfying.” Host affirms the importance of nurturing relationships—with kids, siblings, parents and friends—and the gifts to be found in letting others take over. In a narrative that is anchored by humility and gentle counsel, the author mines nuggets of hope and rapture from wrenching circumstances, only occasionally falling victim to purple prose.
A tender and pragmatic immersion into the bewildering depths of a terrifying illness.