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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

"A meditation on sense-making when there's no sense to be made, on letting go when we can't hold on, and on being unafraid even when we're terrified." (Lucy Kalanithi)

"Belongs on the shelf alongside other terrific books about this difficult subject, like Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal." (Gates Notes)

Kate Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School with a modest Christian upbringing, but she specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, a creed that sees fortune as a blessing from God and misfortune as a mark of God's disapproval. At 35, everything in her life seems to point toward "blessing". She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son.

Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

The prospect of her own mortality forces Kate to realize that she has been tacitly subscribing to the prosperity gospel, living with the conviction that she can control the shape of her life with "a surge of determination". Even as this type of Christianity celebrates the American can-do spirit, it implies that if you "can't do" and succumb to illness or misfortune, you are a failure. Kate is very sick, and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before.

Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, megachurch preachers, relatives, and doctors. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live. 

©2018 Kate Bowler (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"I fell hard and fast for Kate Bowler. Her writing is naked, elegant, and gripping - she's like a Christian Joan Didion. I left Kate's story feeling more present, more grateful, and a hell of a lot less alone. And what else is art for?" (Glennon Doyle, number one New York Times best-selling author of Love Warrior and president of Together Rising)

"Bowler's dry humor and raw, personal accounts help make thinking about our common fate bearable." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Bowler's lovely prose and sharp wit capture her struggle to find continued joy after her [stage IV cancer] diagnosis. This poignant look at the unpredictable promises of faith will amaze readers." (Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Exceptionally human

I have never felt more understood. Kate’s capacity for articulating the human experience in dealing with “life in-between” is exceptional. It was all I could do not to weep the entire time. She has so beautifully captured what it is like to simultaneously need to be weary, while needing to also summon the strength to carry on. I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone dealing with prolonged illness, medical mysteries, dying, not dying, living, not living, or one who loves others who are. Basically everyone.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brutiful

I’m broken open after listening to Kate. This was beautiful and painful. I laughed too loud and cried too much all the way through. I’m so grateful Kate Bowler was willing to share herself and her experience with the world.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Life is absurdly hard and pretending it isn’t is exhausting

Kate Bowler’s memoir is gripping, succinct, and well narrated. She invites the listener in with her dynamic and articulate voice. Her voice can and will take you to the brink of tears and laughter.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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An Author You'll Want to Hold in your Arms

What made the experience of listening to Everything Happens for a Reason the most enjoyable?

The author of Everything.....is also the reader and no one else could have read with the humanity that she does.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kate is more than a character in her book. She is so well developed that the reader both laughs with her and cries with her.

What does Kate Bowler bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I first heard about the book when Kate Bowler was interviewed on NPR. I loved her at once and knew I wanted to hear her read the book herself. When I checked Audible and found that she was Everything....'s narrator, I bought it immediately and have already listened to it twice!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I finished nearly all of the book the first day I had it. I expect to listen to it often through the years to come.

Any additional comments?

I will be referring to her "Appendix" sections often. The "Never Say" list, ie."Everything happens for a reason," etc. is a must read. Hugs, presents, chocolate, "you are wonderful"s are the things I would like to give Kate Bowler for her brave and amazing book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A plus /smiley face, Kate will understand this....

Would you consider the audio edition of Everything Happens for a Reason to be better than the print version?

Odd question, did not read the book however hearing this book from Kates tender voice is to experience Kate as she is a wife, a mom, a daughter a friend, a person of painful truths.

What other book might you compare Everything Happens for a Reason to and why?

Her book is unique.

Which scene was your favorite?

how can an undesirable life changing event have a favorite moment? these questions are mostly inappropriate for this particular audible book. fine if I had to say , it would be Kate giving herself permission to use curse words promising God she will stop after lent. Good luck with that Kate. seriously WTF.......

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

the whole book was moving. Kates transparency

Any additional comments?

"Aging is a F@#$%!ing privilege".

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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it's an inspiring story

it's an inspiring story, if you can get past all the Prospect Gospel nonsense. Actually, just jump to the final very short chapters; read them repeatedly until you absorb her advice ... all the truly important lessons are there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Engaging personal story

I found the story and narration very engaging. The author does an excellent job of putting you through a walk in her shoes. I especially liked the appendix, for not just admonishing what "to neve r say", but also what to say and do for someone with a tough health diagnosis.

The one thing I kept waiting for was the tie in to the larger picture. There is never a clear connection to "the lies that she loved" that the title alludes to. She details the teachings and beliefs of "the prosperity gospel" but never connects them to her personal experience to a point where she is willing to refute or confirm them as lies.

Very touching personal story, but I feel like another chapter or two connecting that story to the beliefs of those she studies and affiliates herself with would have really taken the personal story to a broader and larger context.

I kept waiting for a clear answer to : What exactly are the lies? Why are they lies?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Deb Evans
  • Newberg, Oregon United States
  • 02-08-18

Time well spent listening...

Most books on Audible can be listened to at 1.4 speed, but this narrative needed to be listened to at normal speed read by an author who opened her heart about God, others and her experience with the heart wrenching pain of cancer. I laughed at her wit and cried with her as she drew me into her uncertain future. I appreciated her candid look at the ups and downs of life. Sending her the best of wishes!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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for the medical field and others

I got this book on Audible and it was really good, if I didn't have Audible I think I probably wouldn't finish as many books as I do but I think the author did a really good job of helping people that are struggling with accepting cancer and making decisions about end-of-life choices to really rethink things. I also think it was great for medical professionals to give them the perspective from the other side

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So sad

From the beginning to the end - there is no hope. Only sadness and hopelessness.

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  • Carly Hopgood
  • 07-07-18

just so... real.

so touching and genuine. also really helpful in dealing with grieving people. I'll certainly do it differently in the future.

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  • Marion
  • 03-08-18

Not what I thought

Thought this was about how/why everything happens for a reason, the reason behind it.
But it was her life story and journey of going through cancer... sad- but interesting? Not sure!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-19-18

Compelling

Her truth spoken so well for a book she shouldnt have had to write