Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Review - Between Me and the River by Carrie Host

Between Me and the River by Carrie Host
published 8/09
298 pages

Synopsis from the author's website:

Carrie Host knows that the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness takes a split second to change your life, as well as the lives of your partner, parents, children and all who love you. Packed with inspiration, advice, comfort and hope, Between Me and the River is Host's candid and uplifting memoir of how she found the strength and fortitude to triumph over a rare form of cancer, and craft a new and meaningful life.

When told at forty, with her youngest child just ten months old, that she had carcinoid tumor, Host felt as if she'd been hurled into a raging river, stripped of all forms of potential rescue. The voyage of this strong-minded, openhearted woman out of that river and onto safe shores is told with uncompromising honesty and respect for the miracles that medicine and love can work.

While dealing with practical issues such as how to find the best medical team and what to tell the children, Host also recounts the many spiritual and eye-opening lessons that made her journey so bearable: how to see what is available rather than what is absent, how to free up energy to heal by letting go of anger and fear, and how to believe in the future.

My thoughts:

This is the second book I've read in the past few months about dealing with a terminal illness - the first being Life's That Way by Jim Beaver. The two books made an interesting contrast, and I think work well together. Between Me and the River didn't make the emotional impact on me as the first book, but I think that was the nature of the book - it is much more about the PERSONAL experience of living with cancer, which I've never done, while Life's That Way is about watching someone live with the disease, which I have done. I think the two books compliment each other well, and would be excellent resources for a family who has just received such a life-changing diagnosis.

Carrie Host writes with amazing openness and honesty, showing the ugliness and pain of living through cancer, but also the hope and beauty that can be found in the midst of that pain. She pays moving tribute to the family and friends who were her "angels" through her struggle, and in particular the love and care of her husband was beautiful to read. I just complained last week about being tired of books about women with horrible husbands - this was a book about a woman with a wonderful husband, and it was wonderfully refreshing.

"I let the tears come. I just sit there and cry. I'm crying in a way that I don't recognize. At forty, these are tears that are coming from somewhere I don't feel ready to know about. My husband cries right beside me. I've never heard such sadness emerge from him before. We hold on to each other as only two people who might be separated forever do."

Host's writing is beautiful - she uses a river as metaphor for her disease, and it works very well to express the internal experiences a cancer patient goes through. Better than anything else I've read, this book helps me understand the myriad of emotions the author is forced to confront.

"Angels don't swim. They hover. The angel who has come to the river to guard me in the midst of the water's fury is hovering right above the spray and the deafening sound of rushing water that cannot be stopped. Unable to take to the water, the angel's holding fast to me with his presence from above. I'm clutching on to life in gasps, getting glimpses of hope hovering above me, as the river below takes me where it pleases."

Between Me and the River is a powerful memoir about a woman battling a terrible disease. It's not always easy to read, but it doesn't leave readers with a sense of sadness. It's ultimate message is hopeful, and I do recommend it, as a great resource and an excellent story.

Finished: 10/9/09
Source: Lisa Roe, Online Publicist
Rating: 8/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Beth Fish Reads
Violet Crush
Peeking Between the Pages
Joyfully Retired
My Friend Amy


Mug said...

Ahhh...I enjoyed my visit! Just the review you wrote on this book brought tears to my eyes...I will definitely check out some of your other reviews:) I love the fact that, judging from the titles I see on the side of your blog, you have such an intriguing diversity of titles....

bermudaonion said...

Wow, that sounds like such a powerful book. I'm glad to see it left you with a sense of hope.

Diane said...

Excellent review; sounds hopeful. I love memoirs, but no cancer reads for me right now.

Zibilee said...

I have never read a book that touches on this subject, but this one does sound incredibly moving. I am thinking that this would be an interesting and enlightening read for me. Thanks for the great review!

Zibilee said...

I have never read a book that touches on this subject, but this one does sound incredibly moving. I am thinking that this would be an interesting and enlightening read for me. Thanks for the great review!

Stephanie said...

What a beautifully written review! This sounds like a moving memoir.

Kailana said...

Great review! I need to get around to reviewing this!

Jenners said...

I've heard such good things about this book..and I like your idea of pairing it with the other book you mentioned. A good "handbook" for all involved in this horrible disease.

Beth F said...

Thanks for the link up! I agree that the personal aspect of the story made the connection a bit less strong for me. I too loved the river metaphor.