Sunday, January 24, 2016

Message to My Girl: My Review

Message to My Girl: A Dying Father's Powerful Legacy of Hope

About the Book:

Doctor Jared Noel knew he was dying for almost six years, from the age of 25. But when it looked as though he would not live to see the birth of his child, he began a Givealittle crowd-funding campaign to raise money for a course of chemo treatment that would keep him alive long enough to meet his unborn child. This remarkable campaign, covered by nationwide media, raised an incredible $170,000 in two days. Jared not only lived to see Elise born but also enjoyed her first nine months. Jared's blog, initially written to alleviate boredom during rounds of chemotherapy, attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. He used it to challenge the taboos of death and dying with humor and unnerving honesty, and wrote with clinical precision and pragmatism. Jared had the knack of turning conversation stoppers into conversation starters. In his final weeks, Jared put his story together with the help of writer David Williams, primarily so that his baby daughter Elise might one day know her father. This is Jared's story, but it is also a profound meditation on life and death, and everything in between.

My Comments:

When I was in high school I read a book called Death Be Not Proud , the memoir of a father about his teenage son who died of brain cancer in the 1940's.  Message to My Girl: A Dying Father's Powerful Legacy of Hope reminded me of that book in that both followed men who knew they were going to die but who chose to live with the time they had.  I don't remember much about Death Be Not Proud but there was a movie made from the book and one scene etched in my memory is Johnny crossing the stage at graduation on crutches with his head wrapped in bandages.  Message to My Girl: A Dying Father's Powerful Legacy of Hope reminded me of that scene.

Jared Noel was a man of faith and his faith permeates this book but his faith isn't a preachy or saccharine faith.  Jared was a man who was forced to confront his own mortality decades before most of us give it a thought and who drew strength from his faith. As we travel with Jared from his pre-cancer life through Diagnosis Day through is final days he doesn't tell us what we should believe or how faith should change our lives; rather he talks about the feeling of vocation he had about going to medical school and then serving people in the Third World.  He talks about trying to grasp meaning from suffering--and then realizing that he was asking the wrong questions. Jared admitted that being a man of faith was not normal for scientists and told of how he wrestled to reconcile faith and science.

The copy I had was an ARC from NetGalley and is subject to change before final publication, however there are some quotes I want to share with you:

I have asked for healing if it is possible in the context of the bigger story--the one I believe in but no not necessarily understand.  And that healing has not come.  I have never despaired because of this though.  Faith is a framework through which we engage with realities, not with fairy tales or illusions.  My own story, in which I have not experienced miraculous healing, sets me apart of many of the triumphant stories that are often peddled as proof that faith works or God is real.  The message about how well your life will go if you are a Christian is largely nonsense....But in my case, my faith community got to hear from someone who did not get healed....It is one of the things I hope for as I die--that I challenged people of faith to be pragmatic and to deal with realities, not with illusion.
Mercy.  The outworking of justice.  The response of love.  Mercy is justice in action--actually engaging with the suffering of other people.  .... Mercy steps in...and demonstrates compassion.   

At times the book was hard to read.  My Dad died almost two year ago and I was there for the last few days.  The descriptions of the dying process brought back back memories, but yet I wouldn't have missed those days with my Dad for anything.  I blessed to be there with him and thank God I was given that privilege.  Still, my Dad's death was the death of an old man who had "run the race".  Jared was a  young man who spent his "prime years" being sick and dying.  Yet he managed to reach a lot of people via his blog and via his church activities.  He refused to stop living just because he was dying.

I enjoyed this book and had tears rolling down my face as it ended were I knew it would end.  I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  A.

1 comment:

  1. I have seen this one in our shops and been attracted to it, glad to hear you found it really good. Inspires me to deep breathe and give it a go!


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