Simultaneously horrifying and compelling. How could a book about such a horrible disease be such a page turner but it is. The story is riddled with personal anecdotes and stories about how the treatment of cancer progressed step by painful step. Learning how cancer cells work was a revelation but not for the unscientific minded. The review of transcription and how retroviruses work can be daunting but worth the attention. The fact that at any moment the genes of one cell can be influenced by various external factors, change their configuration, free itself from the normal constraints of the body and go wild, is a sobering thought. The thought I am left with is that these cancer cells are like evil dopplegangers lurking in the shadows to take over my body. If you are going to listen to one non-fiction book this year, this should be it.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. There were parts that were so repulsive that I almost had to stop listening but I persevered and was rewarded with one of the funniest, fascinating books I've ever listened to. The reader was particularly good. She captured the dark humor side of the book. How can we go wrong when a book lists the most common ways of testing a corpse for truly being dead including a red-hot poker up the butt?
Another true story from someone who is neither famous nor a player on the world stage, nor the architect of some planet--changing accomplishment. However she DID go through hell and back, and not only survived but thrived, and lived to tell about it.
This woman has my unconditional admiration. The story has her pushing through obstacle after obstacle, jumping (metaphorically) through hoops and all the while never losing her perspective and sense of humor. Several times I laughed out loud while walking the bike path - other walkers, cyclists, runners must have thought I was nuts.
The gauntlet was thrown down many many times by her doctors and the rest of the medical establishment and she triumphed over that one too - hilariously naming all the characters and courageously ignoring their "advice" (in quotes for this) in order to follow her own path as an overachiever in the best way possible.
The narration was perfect. Joyce Bean's tone walked that fine line between sarcasm and honest emotion, and her nuanced characterization of Julia's impaired but gradually improving speech abilities could not have worked out better.
One more thing, if you've come this far in this review - the book uses the second person throughout, a technique that I am starting to love. Like the airplane pilot in "The Night Strangers" whose story is always a "you" story, 2nd person, this technique makes the narrative sound like an instruction manual, in a good way. After all, books can be, amongst so many other things, instruction manuals for life.
5 stars all around!