Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Review: Perseverance

Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors is a book about young cancer survivors. Filled with hope and courage, Perseverance tells the story of twenty young people diagnosed with childhood cancer. Each chapter is a different person's story.

Each chapter is a first person account of that individuals diagnosis and cancer fight. The stories were all so different, but they all shared the same perseverance. Some persevered through their faith. Others through family encouragement. Some battled through alone, as their friends seemed to disappear during their trails. Others took their friendships to the next level, by the love and support shown.

I really enjoyed the conclusion of each chapter, which shared what the survivor was doing now. To read through the story, and then learn that they've married, or are in college now answered my "where are they now" questions.

The only aspect of the book I didn't like, was how each chapter was introduced by the author (Carolyn Rubenstein). Because her introduction was first person, then the story of the survivor was first person, it was a bit confusing. I don't think her relationship to the survivor, how she met them, or how she felt about them was in any way relevant to their stories (which is what the book is about), and by removing herself from the book, it would have been a much tighter story. (it was a very long, nearly 400 page book.)

I do admire the author, who since age 14 has worked with children with cancer, and who offers a scholarship program for childhood cancer survivors. However, I think she could have covered herself in an introduction in the book, and then let the stories each stand on their own.

The book concludes with a list of organizations that help kids with cancer and a medical glossary. I think these additions were very beneficial to the book.

Jamie Saunders, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in her freshman year of high school, said, “I know I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for the fact that I had cancer.” Nearly all of the survivors shared that belief.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I will note that it is not a faith-based book, and that while some of the survivors credit God, some question their faith or faith is not a part of their story. But it is an inspiring book that shows that cancer can be beaten, that young people are resilient, and that trials and tribulations bring opportunities for triumphs.

Chatty Kelly


Diane said...

My mom died of cancer last year and it is so much more than anyone could ever explain. I appreciated Farrah Fawcett's documentary since it showed all the realities you face. The book sounds very interesting. :O)

Sue J. said...

You closed well! Nice job....

Andrea said...

Thanks for the overview.

Blessings, andrea

Runner Mom said...

Thanks for this reveiw, Kelly! After my race on Saturday, it's been on my heart quite heavily.

Have a great day, girlfriend!

Greg C said...

I haven't read this book but I think I would agree with you. I think jumping straight into the stories would have been better. I worked at Camp Happy Days every year when I worked at my old job and it was amazing to interact with all the children who had cancer.

B His Girl said...

Perserverance is need for whatever battles we face. Thanks for the review.

Heather @ Life Abundantly said...

It is frightening how many people we know who are suffering with or have lost their battle with cancer.

My ADHD Me said...

That was a great review. Don't worry, that isn't the same thing as "Great Post!"

Even though I haven't read the book, your comments about the authors remarks at the beginning of each chapter make sense. The readers really don't care about that stuff.

Kind of like the restaurant customer who doesn't really care WHY their dinner is taking so long. They just want their dinner!

I know, I know....Great Analogy. haha..

Heart2Heart said...


I think that books like these can united people that are undergoing cancer. It can provide a statistic doctors fail to give, that you can survive. What a great inspiration!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Ben S said...

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for posting this review. I have actually read the book. First let me say I totally agree and think this book is incredibly inspirational, heartwarming, and something that we all should read.

I think you miss the boat with something though; One thing that I really enjoyed was reading what Carolyn had to say. I did some digging on her website after reading the book - it took her over 4 years to write. I get the sense that if it were not for Carolyn's personal relationship with them, there is no way she would have been able to get out the raw emotions and details the way she did.

I actually think the way she met them was incredibly relevant to the book. Rather than just "twenty stories," I felt like I was reading a book that has a message throughout -- hope. I just feel that if it were just twenty stories, it becomes a chicken soup type passion.

Anyways, thanks for posting the review! I've recently started visiting your site and love what you have to say!

Blessings and love,


Kelly Combs said...

Great points, Ben! I'm glad you visted and liked my blog.

I think we agree it's a worthwhile book.

Come back and visit again!

Sharon@JoyInTheTruth said...

Kelly: Your reviews are always thoughtful and honest.

Do the authors read these reviews or just the publishers?

KrippledWarrior said...

Sorry sweetie,
Never read it been there don't want to relive it. It's not the strong who survive. It is the survivors who are strong. Does that make sense? Also, no one who has been there and come out alive, did it without speaking to the everlasting God.

Carolyn said...

Thank you so much for reviewing Perseverance, Kelly! I am so grateful that you took the time to write such a thoughtful post. You have an incredible group of readers - love reading all of the comments!

@Diane - I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope you are able to read Perseverance.

@Greg - Camp Happy Days is a great place. I believe I mention it in the book :). I actually started my non-profit after volunteering at Camp Sunshine at age 14, a camp for children going through cancer. The experience changed my entire life - at least the last 10 years :).

@B His Girl - Perseverance is a critical ingredient. The title of the book actually has profound meaning for me. I haven't really discussed the meaning behind the title choice, but you can find out a little snippet here:

Thank you again, Kelly.
Best wishes,

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