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An inspiring story of finding faith—in God, in family, and in oneself—while walking close to the valley of the shadow of...

A touching tale of battling cancer set against the backdrop of the prosperity gospel.

Bowler (Duke Divinity School; Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, 2013), a specialist in the study of the prosperity gospel, found her life turned upside down in her mid-30s with a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. Here, she chronicles her journey from what seemed a death sentence to a lifestyle of living from one medical test to another, surviving as a result of the effects of a clinical trial and a stalwart community of friends and family. Throughout, the author delivers raw emotion, realistic description, and candid assessments, and she weaves in references to the faith system she has studied and, indeed, of which she has become a community member. Bowler points out the ironies of fighting a deadly battle against her own body while relating to a strand of Christianity that teaches that faith, holiness, and confidence will provide any sort of blessing or healing the believer needs. From Oprah to Osteen, Bowler examines the effects of such preaching upon people of faith, including the depth of turmoil that true tragedy often brings. The author sees her cancer story unfold in liturgical terms, using Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time to explain her journey. Ultimately, in Ordinary Time (the bulk of the church year), she discovers the power of being present in life, enjoying her family, and finding meaning where she is able. Bowler’s reflections will speak to those who have suffered similar illnesses and existential crises, and secondary themes abound: the inhumane and often emotionless face of modern health care, the capacity of family and close friends to give of themselves through love and generosity, the well-meaning but foolish things that people say to those who are living with serious health issues, and more.

An inspiring story of finding faith—in God, in family, and in oneself—while walking close to the valley of the shadow of death.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-59206-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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