A harrowing, ultimately inspiring cancer journal.



Drawing from his blog posts, a father recounts the life-changing battle waged against his young son’s leukemia.

In 2009, Simkins’ middle son, Brennan, had just turned 7 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia that required a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy. Sadly, while it at first seemed that the cancer was in remission after Brennan underwent treatment in a hospital near the family’s Georgia home, the cancer crept back. Medical professionals told Simkins and his wife that further treatment would be risky, and they should prepare for their child’s death. Instead, the family relocated to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, where Brennan ended up receiving a record four stem cell transplants. Simkins began to blog soon after Brennan’s diagnosis; this memoir is an adaptation of those chronologically dated entries. He details his son’s fight against cancer and an array of distressing setbacks, which included the emergence of a brain cyst and Brennan being put into a medical coma, as well as how the Band of Brothers story became a resonating metaphor for the family. Simkins also details relationships forged with pediatric cancer patients, their parents, doctors, and most significantly, his own fluctuating moods of faith and despair. By 2012, the family was finally back at home, with Brennan now stable in fourth remission, with Simkins realizing the experience had also unleashed “the capacity to awaken, to seek, and truly experience life.” Simkins, who spent time as a newspaper reporter and now runs an advertising firm, offers an intensely honest account of the horrors and hope that face a parent whose child has cancer. His narrative is a testament to the importance of seeking out additional medical opinions while harnessing the power of family and prayer. Simkins admits in his foreword that his account may be too downbeat and overly detailed, but his memoir is nevertheless an absorbing, suspenseful read, complete with a heartbreaking dramatic crescendo as Brennan recovers but others do not.

A harrowing, ultimately inspiring cancer journal.

Pub Date: March 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63299-023-5

Page Count: 302

Publisher: River Grove Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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