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Review: Life’s That Way

May 19, 2009

Life's that way

Shortly after their beloved two-year old daughter, Madeline Rose, was diagnosed with autism, Jim Beaver and Cecily Adams were told that Cecily had Stage IV Lung Cancer.  Cecily was determined to fight it and take everything doctors could to throw at her for the sake of Maddie.   Rather than update friends and family individually, Jim decided to send out a nightly email to everyone documenting the treatments, their struggles and their emotions.

Life’s That Way by Jim Beaver is a compilation of his emails for a year – the four months of Cecily’s battle with cancer and the first eight months after that while Jim struggled with grief, daily life and raising Maddie (who is doing very well, by the way).  Jim bared his soul in these emails and the writing is beautiful, emotional and sad; yet somehow it’s filled with hope and love.  He said,

We are thankful for so much, of course.  Cec feels a little better every day further from her last chemo treatment.  We are blessed with loving friends and family with the kind of generosity I thought only bona fide saints possessed.  We love each other, we have food and clothing and shelter and no real fears or worries beyond the big one we face.  We have more than most people, even most people we know.

He also said, “If this weren’t the worst thing that ever happened to us, it would be the best thing that ever happened.”  The love Jim felt for Cecily is evident in every page of this book and I couldn’t help but think that she was a lucky woman to have someone love her so much.  I would find myself crying moments later because of a treatment she had to endure or an event she was forced to miss.  One thing I appreciated were the tips he gave for what to say to friends who are coping with grief.  He recommends saying things like, “I can’t imagine your pain,” or “I have no idea how you must feel,” rather than “I know how you feel,” or “At least she’s not in pain anymore.”  He said hearing ” I don’t know what to say” was more comforting than hearing “It just takes time.”

This memoir is full of emotion and should be sold with a box of tissues.  Don’t expect a light read or an easy read; this book  is painfully touching and emotionally draining, but oh, so good.  It will make you thankful for all you have in your life.  There’s one last thought from the book that I want to close with –

All I can say is if you have someone you can share with, someone who cares about your life and wants to be involved in it in some way, any way, then share.  Share, share, share.  If a day comes when you’ve got no one to share that day with, nor the next nor the next, that’s when you will know what you don’t want to know.  That even the best life can be hollowed out in a moment or in a week or in four months.

Jim Beaver is a playwright and actor best known for his roles on Deadwood and Supernatural.

Review copy provided by Folio Literary Management.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2009 6:50 am

    This book is so sad. It must be really difficult to handle all this and even write it in a book. Thanks for the review Kathy.

  2. Melanie permalink
    May 19, 2009 7:11 am

    I can’t wait to read this book.

  3. May 19, 2009 7:21 am

    It sounds heartbreaking.

  4. May 19, 2009 7:23 am

    This sounds like a book that I’ll wait for until I need a good cry!

  5. May 19, 2009 8:11 am

    Ok… waayy to sad for me. I teared up just reading your review!

  6. May 19, 2009 8:12 am

    I see what you mean about reading books about cancer. This story sounds so sad. I don’t know if I could read it. I’d definitely have to be in the right frame of mind.

  7. May 19, 2009 8:25 am

    Sounds like a good book, but I don’t know if I could read it. Not sure I could handle that much sadness right now. I’ll keep it in mind, though. Great review!


  8. May 19, 2009 8:55 am

    A great review of a beautiful book! I loved that Beaver was able to take such a dark, difficult experience and turn it into something so life affirming and inspiring. And you’re right that it should be sold w/ a box of tissues. I’m not much of a crier, and I sobbed through several sections.

  9. May 19, 2009 9:35 am

    It seems like such a sad, sad book. I would love to read it even though I know I would bawl my eyes out. Thanks for the review, I will look for the book now.

  10. May 19, 2009 9:59 am

    This sounds like a sad but powerful book. I think that it’s books like this that can help us to understand other and appreciate what we do have. I’ll be adding this to my wishlist.

  11. Bobbie Crawford-McCoy permalink
    May 19, 2009 10:55 am

    This sounds like such a heart-breaking story.
    Thank you for the thoughtful review, Kathy.

  12. May 19, 2009 11:02 am

    What a wonderful review, just reading it made me teary. I’m adding this one to my wish list.

  13. May 19, 2009 11:03 am

    This sounds like a great book, but probably one that I shouldn’t read for the next six months or so. Thanks for the review Kathy.

  14. May 19, 2009 11:32 am

    Wow. I can’t even imagine the pain of having your children that sick. Sounds like an interesting book.

  15. May 19, 2009 11:36 am

    A sad situation for sure but during times of tragedy we tend to come together as a community and it’s that promise of strength that enables me to pick up a book like this.

  16. May 19, 2009 12:02 pm

    Wow…thank you for the review. When you mentioned it on Twitter, I instantly added it to my wish list.

    My uncle passed away almost a year ago from prostate cancer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see him before he passed, it had been years since I’d seen him. He understood this; we all lead very busy lives. After he died, I made it my mission to live each day to its fullest, because you never know when it’s going to be your last.

  17. May 19, 2009 12:09 pm

    It was heartbreaking to just read your review. I’m sure the entire book was tough but then not as tough as what they went through. They sure picked very appropriate title for the book. Thanks Kathy for a sensitive review.

  18. May 19, 2009 12:44 pm

    I barely even skimmed your review because I have this one to review and I worry so much about spoilers. I’ll come back to read it later. I am totally prepared for teary eyes.

  19. May 19, 2009 2:04 pm

    What a sad story. I love Jim Beaver on Supernatural.

  20. May 19, 2009 2:20 pm

    Just reading your review made me teary-eyed.

  21. Dar permalink
    May 19, 2009 2:38 pm

    This sounds so sad and heartbreaking. A good lesson though to live your life the best you can.

  22. May 19, 2009 4:30 pm

    Oh, what a sad book. I don’t know if I could ever read this but you wrote a wonderful review.

  23. May 19, 2009 5:38 pm

    It’s good to take time to be grateful for our loved ones.

  24. May 19, 2009 11:09 pm

    I just plunked down the head on the desk to weep a moment… .. whew.. it is so sad and yet a powerful message.

  25. May 19, 2009 11:20 pm

    A friend of mine is dealing with cancer right now, so I’d have a hard time getting through this book. Maybe after she (fingers crossed) gets better.

  26. May 19, 2009 11:45 pm

    Wow, this was an absolutely amazing review. I’m not sure I can handle this book, but your review makes me want to read it anyways.

  27. stacybuckeye permalink
    May 20, 2009 10:00 am

    I’m in tears just reading your review! I don’t know if I could read this right now, but I’ll keep it in mind for later. Or if I come in contact with someone going through something similar. Thanks for the review 🙂

  28. May 20, 2009 8:48 pm

    I have this book to review, but am waiting for a day when I can devote myself to it, because I know I won’t be able to put it down. This was a great review!

  29. May 20, 2009 9:03 pm

    Personal memoir is one of my favorite genres … I’ll put this on my list! And, I’ll be prepared with plenty of tissues; the quotes you mentioned in your review really give me a good feel for the book.

  30. May 20, 2009 9:56 pm

    This looks like such an amazing story, thanks for the wonderful review.

  31. May 20, 2009 10:13 pm

    Sounds like a book that I would love to read. Right now I am reading The Middle Place and the description reminds me of it.

  32. May 21, 2009 5:28 am

    Sounds like a depressing book! I am not sure I would be able to read it! It’s nice to find love in the world, though. Especially when there are days that there seems like none at all!

  33. May 21, 2009 6:30 pm

    This was a beautiful review. I haven’t heard of this book but I am absolutely going to read it!!

  34. May 21, 2009 7:54 pm

    Wow, that book sounds intense! I like novels written in letters though (epistolary novels, I think), so the format of this one sounds neat. Really sad though!

  35. May 21, 2009 7:57 pm

    Wow! This sounds wonderful and moving. I have a friend who sent out weekly email updates to all her friends this year while she struggled with melanoma. It was a great way to know what was going on with her without feeling like I was disturbing her with constant phone calls. And it helped let me know what I could do to help, like take her son for the day or bring a meal over. It’s been a year now and she is cancer free. But she may be interested in reading this book. I’ll pass the title on to her.

  36. May 24, 2009 2:19 pm

    I honestly do think that books like this should come with a little pack of tissues taped to the back!

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