Saturday, June 2, 2012

{Review} "Life's That Way" by Jim Beaver

Title:  Life's That Way
Author:  Jim Beaver
Publisher:  Berkley Trade
Publication Date:  April 6, 2010
Genre:  Non-Fiction, Memoir
Format:  Paperback, 336 pages

Buy this book on Amazon:  Paperback   Kindle Edition
Author's Website:  

Synopsis from Goodreads    
A remarkable memoir that shows the capacity of the human heart to heal after the challenge of having to say goodbye. 

Even the hardest lessons contain great gifts. 

Jim Beaver and his wife Cecily Adams appeared to have it all-following years of fertility treatments, they were finally parents and they were building their dream home and successful Hollywood careers. Life was good. But then their daughter, Maddie, was diagnosed as autistic. Weeks later, Cecily, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Sadly, after 14 years of marriage, Jim became a widower and a single dad.

Faced with overwhelming grief, Jim reached out to family and friends by writing a nightly email-a habit he established when Cecily was first diagnosed. Initially a cathartic exercise for Jim, the prose became an unforgettable journey for his readers. Life's That Way is a compilation of those profound, compelling emails.
Diving in...

This is a hard review for me to write.  I should preface this review by saying a couple things.  Firstly, I don't tend to read non-fiction books.  I prefer fantasy to real-life when I am reading.  Secondly, I sought out this book originally because I, like many other readers, am a Supernatural fan.  I have always loved the character Jim plays, Bobby Singer.  He seems to play the same type of character on every show I have seen him on, that kind of grouchy guy, sometimes a cowboy type, but seemingly always a curmudgeon.  Thirdly, I never thought that I would willingly read a book that deals with this kind of real life loss.

This book is written in real time, so what you are reading is not something that was written years, or even days after the fact.  Each journal type entry was written the day that it happens.  He is very specific in the introduction of the book to let the reader know that each entry was left as it was originally written.  He didn't go back and add things that he thought about later.  What is there is exactly what was being gone through at that particular moment or day.

This started out as a nightly email to let family and friends know what was happening and ended up reaching near to 4000 people nightly within a months time.  This spans exactly one years time.  There is really no way to "spoil" the book, if anything the synopsis does that.  They very fact that it's a memoir puts it all out there as well, so I won't worry about spoilers here.  The journals start pretty much with Cecily's diagnosis and Jim continues to write them as he deals with her death and the months that come after it.

As someone who lost my mother to cancer at a very young age, I will say that I applaud Jim for being able to do this.  I can only imagine how terribly hard it must have been for him to do.  I daresay, that Maddie will greatly appreciate it some day.  I was 16-17 when my mother was going through this and I don't remember much of that time.  I know that, now, I would love to be able to read someones account of the days, weeks and months that my mother was sick.  It would be hard, but I think it would be helpful to understand what everyone was going through.

I love that he is so honest in his entries, it makes it all so real.  He is not afraid to put it all out there and let everyone know that it's hard, but he is getting though it.  You can see that he is putting everything he has into these entries and he is doing it so beautifully.  Each entry is so powerfully written, even if all he says is that he can't bear to write anything today.  It seems awful to say that his writing is so beautiful when he is writing about something so horrible, but it's true.

Even if you don't typically read books like this, if you have lost someone to this disease, this is a book I definitely recommend reading.  If you like memoirs, then this is a must read as well.  I won't read this book again because it was too heart-wrenching to read once, but I will definitely loan it out to others.

Rating 10/10

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