Living while Dying by Donna Tarrant

Living while Dying

With Irrational Joy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman’s faith helps her to cope with her diagnosed terminal illness in this debut devotional memoir.

On Oct. 8, 2007, Tarrant, then 55, was coming up on the five-year anniversary of her breast cancer diagnosis. But on this day, her oncologist told her that the disease she thought was cured had actually metastasized. Now, at stage 4, she was facing the real possibility of death. This memoir, she says, has two agendas: the first is to help others in her situation find hope; the other, “and most important of all,” she says, is to “help them find Jesus if they don’t know Him so that they, too, can live an irrationally happy life.” The mere fact that the author is alive to write this book satisfies the former. “Live the rest of life on this earth as the precious gift that it is....Enjoy what time is left to the max,” she encourages. However, Tarrant’s unflinching document of her treatment—including the “arsenal of drugs” she took, and their often debilitating side effects—is perhaps more valuable than sincerely written platitudes. She also addresses the psychological toll of the devastating discussions she had about her illness. For example, at one point, during a family conversation with her doctor, her son asked, “How long will I have my mom?” After receiving the answer, Tarrant thought, “There it was, finally out in the open—the number of years I had left to live.” However, her unquestioning faith in God sustained her throughout: “I must put all my trust and faith in Him,” she proclaims. This aspect of the book may keep secular readers from embracing it, as they may feel that it sometimes has a hectoring tone (“Get right with God. If you are not living a full and complete Christian life, now is the time to change”). It also might have been interesting if the author had provided more explanation of her trust in God as she wrestled with each setback, including a climactic, crushing blow. But when she affirms at one point that “I know that this truly is part of God’s plan,” that will be enough for many readers.

An ultimately triumphant chronicle of faith, sustained and deepened by tragedy.

Pub Date: April 19th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4908-2557-1
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Westbow Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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