BEING BRETT by Douglas Hobbie


Chronicle of a Daughter's Death
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 The dramatic, sad story of a young woman's prolonged death from cancer, as told by her devastated father. Novelist Hobbie's (The Day, 1993, etc.) history takes a novel's form, told in the third person from the point of view of the writer/father. Brett was the oldest of his three children, red-haired like him, ``a dazzling young woman . . . hastening to a world of possibilities'' when she moved from the East Coast to San Francisco at age 23 to begin life on her own. Shortly after she began her first job as a writer, a small lump appeared above Brett's collarbone. The diagnosis was Hodgkin's lymphoma. Medical experts squabbled over the prospects of a cure as Brett began four years of debilitating tests and therapy, in and out of hospitals, in and out of emergency rooms. Sieges of fever, coughing, and often agonizing pain were interspersed with long, hopeful periods of remission. During one of those periods, she acquired a lover, Beth. Within a month, symptoms returned. Brett kept a journal and wrote letters; when words could no longer serve her, she began to paint, trying to express both the intensity of her suffering and her persistent claim to a life outside her disease. For the last summer of her life, she and Beth returned to live near her family in Massachusetts, where Brett and those she loved tried to reconcile themselves to her death. This is always her father's story, reconstructed from the journal he kept through those long years. As eloquently and honestly as it is recounted, Brett's tragedy is filtered through his sometimes self-conscious sorrow. Too painful to be a comfort to other parents and lovers, this is--as it seems meant to be--a tribute to the richness and vitality of a young woman who fought to make every dying day count for life.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-2520-0
Page count: 318pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1995


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