Algonquin - 2013
I've enjoyed many of Alice Hoffman's works of fiction in the past, but I wasn't sure what to make of her most recent book, Survival Lessons, which is non fiction. I was surprised to learn that 15 years ago, the author was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In this slim book, just 81 pages, Ms Hoffman shares bits of wisdom about how she coped with her diagnosis and subsequent treatment. She reflects on what helped her get through an extremely difficult time in her life, stressing how important it was to focus on the positive and to do the things we love.
Her past experience reinforces how important it is to enjoy time spent with friends and family, but only those who are truly concerned and supportive of our difficult situation. She gives us permission to let go of the people who are dragging us down and those who are not there for us when the going gets rough and you need them the most.
Although the author shares some personal elements about her somewhat sad childhood, an absent father and depressed mother, I found the book to be more life affirming than depressing. We all experience bad times in our life, and we all heal in different ways. For each of our sorrows, most of us find equal amounts of joy in our life as well -- look for the little things and reasons to be happy.
One of my favorite passages was: "There is always a before and an after. My advice, travel light. Choose only what you need most to see you through."
Much of the advice gives are things that we already know, yet the book is just so inspirational. I do think this book would make a thoughtful gift for a sister, a woman friend, or a coworker who is going through a difficult time in their life.
(eGalley received through NetGalley)