Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review: Unexpected Blessings

It's been awhile since I told you I was going to read and write a review on a book I received in the mail. Between the Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the holidays, it has really taken me this long to find an appropriate time to sit down and write. I wanted to give the book the attention it deserved, and this week when I came down with a TERRIBLE kidney infection I figured it's as good a time as any. I'm starting to feel better, but not incredibly well physically and my mind is itching for something to do. It also had me thinking a lot about the book, so here it is.

I received an e-mail from the publisher of Unexpected Blessings: Stories of Hope and Healing by Roxanne Black asking me if I would be interested in an advance copy and writing a review on my blog. I thought OF COURSE I'm interested, it's a book, and a book about something I know quite a bit about. So when I received it in the mail, I set right to reading it and it did not take me long to become thoroughly engaged.

The stories in Unexpected Blessings centered around the life, loss, healing, and hope of Roxanne Black who at 15 was diagnosed with systemic lupus. It was after this diagnosis and subsequent hospital stays that Black was driven to develop the Friend's Health Connection to help others like herself find one another and form a network of support. She recalls with great clarity the moments in her life that she sees as most important, and speaks candidly about her two kidney transplants and what the lives of the individual donors have meant to her.

In the two years since I really began to understand what living and learning with a chronic condition means I have read a lot of books that describe individual stories of great challenges and overcoming those challenges to live a new and adjusted type of life. Unexpected Blessings is that, but it is something more as well. She does not just describe her own story of illness, but also the stories of ones the she has come in contact with throughout her life and treatment. They are strong testament of the wills of people of all ages and times, dealing with chronic and life changing illnesses. Even as I read in the corner of my favorite coffee shop I found myself slightly embarrassed to be crying in public. It wasn't a all out sobbing cry, but some tears of recognition in each one of their stories.

The stories Black shared were powerful, and her life has been very inspirational. I would have like to have seen more continuity to the chapters, and a little more conclusion to the story. She tends to jump around, not unlike I do in this blog, and I felt not completely informed about the messages she was trying to share. Of course a conclusion to Black's life story will not come for some time and I look forward to hearing from her in the future.

If you see this book in the bookstore or your local library I recommend a read. Roxanne Black is a remarkable woman who tells a remarkable story.

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