Reflections on faith, family and the fragility of life.
Author Fourari leaves no stone unturned in this in-depth examination of her life, including her parents’ marriage and subsequent divorce, her birth father’s suicide and several other family tragedies. She eventually met her husband and had several children before death, which dogs her family, lands on her very own doorstep via her diagnosis of breast cancer. As she makes her way through biopsies, chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery, Fourari decides to slow down her life and savor the things that matter—namely, her family and her faith. In this effort to share her lessons, each chapter begins with a quote about family and ends with “Your Turn” exercises, which include telling someone how you feel about them, volunteering for an organization or in service of a friend, traveling, liking yourself for who you are, and letting your authentic self shine through, among others. Faith is a touchstone of the story, and Fourari, who rekindles her Catholic faith after witnessing the devoutness of her Muslim husband’s family, makes time to pray by getting up early or praying while running. She sees her cancer as a “useful tool to instruct how to live life to its fullest and serve others daily in this journey through life.” While her story is certainly relatable and engaging, readers are likely to have heard the lessons before. Overall, the book walks the line between being a memoir and a self-help guide without ever clearly settling on one side or the other; the “Your Turn” sections, for instance, function more as exhortations toward doing what she did rather than actual applicable steps. The book stays true to its intention to explore the importance of family by including a large cast of characters, which can make the story drag at times, especially when those characters rarely play a large role in the narrative. Nevertheless, Fourari’s approachability and humor are inspiring and engaging, and readers struggling with illness are sure to find comfort in these pages.
Standard self-help fare, but humorous and thorough.