There's no doubt that Zaccone is sincere in her wish to alleviate suffering, and women with breast cancer, no matter their...




A successful businesswoman gives a warts-and-all account of her fight with cancer.

In 2008, Zaccone learned that a mass in her right breast was an invasive cancerous tumor. Armed with pink boxing gloves and the unwavering support of her husband, family and friends, she underwent chemotherapy and radiation–and the vomiting, hair and weight loss, bouts of constipation and nearly unendurable pain that accompanied the treatment. First she cried: "Not the crying, boo-hoo-hoo, snotty, messy, snorting kind of crying–but more like Niagara Falls; constant." During her "random interruption," Zaccone met and held her ground with several medical professionals. She worried about her looks, had her breasts blessed with holy water, hosted a head-shaving party, drank Grey Goose vodka, shopped for wigs to match her hair color, vowed to quit smoking and didn't, handled insurance claims for her damaged lake house and dreamed of writing a bestseller–all while resembling more and more, in her words, a sort of human Chia Pet. The story is emotionally honest and packed with personal details that few would disclose or openly discuss. It’s heartening to know there’s a husband–"an ass man"–who takes his wife's mastectomy in stride. Some chapters end with brief medical insights ("Dr. Song's Corner") courtesy of Dr. David H. Song of the University of Chicago Medical Center. The book also includes a glossary ("The Language of Breast Cancer") and lists of suggested questions to ask doctors. But despite being a tell-all account of surviving cancer and chemo–complete with facts, fun and photos–the book doesn't fully resonate. Zaccone seemingly has it all–looks, money, love, career and an impressive support system of family and friends–yet the narrative is fraught with seemingly excessive bouts of self-loathing. There's the occasional jarring juxtaposition of text: if it would ensure her soldier godson's safety, Zaccone says she would gladly double her chemotherapy time, but three paragraphs later, she questions her ability to handle three more rounds of a chemotherapy drug.

There's no doubt that Zaccone is sincere in her wish to alleviate suffering, and women with breast cancer, no matter their background, should find comfort and guidance here.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-1441580573

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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