Plot/Idea: James's chronicle of her battle with breast cancer is clever, exciting, and moving, conveying the reader through every step of her terrifying and ultimately triumphant six month fight.
Prose: The prose is clear and snappy, though at times what is a revelation to James may seem more obvious to readers. Her insight runs from the profound to, as she herself admits, the silly, as she reflects on the overt—and more subtle—changes that accompany a cancer diagnosis.
Originality: Breast cancer stories are frequent, but James's presentation is unique and moving, from the heartbreaking comfort of telling her family, to her discovery of her life's purpose through her arduous journey. Her chapter titles in particular are a clever balance of grounding and humorous.
Character/Execution: James's perspective on her cancer fight offers readers both an educative and realistic glimpse of a nightmarish time, and she peppers the text with hints that will be helpful to readers experiencing similar situations. Throughout, her willingness to frankly address the changes that follow a cancer diagnosis allows much needed levity for a harrowing experience.
Date Submitted: November 07, 2023
From the initial discovery of a lump in her right breast, James recounts in arresting detail how the diagnosis affected her personally as well as those in "the secret society"—the close friends and family members she chose to share the news with and include in her recovery. James also explores the ways she coped, both after hearing the diagnosis and during chemotherapy treatments, methods that included meditation to stop her negative thoughts and visualization of loved ones for strength—“Out of my love for them, I’ll find the courage to go on” she writes.
James makes it clear her suffering has a purpose—to mentor others, drawing on her experience as “a constant reminder that hope, much like joy, is contagious, and hope, in itself, is powerful.” That desire to help is palpable throughout, as James offers readers practical tools, including a “Healing Light Meditation” she created to aid her body’s recovery, as both an audio link and embedded in the text. "Even if I wanted to remain in my old life, there was no way I could. I had changed. The cancer had changed me, and there was no going back" James declares, and that resolve persists through the 247 days from diagnosis to ringing the bell on her last treatment. This will resonate with anyone affected by cancer.
Takeaway: A powerful anthem of hope and perseverance in the fight against cancer.
Comparable Titles: Natalie Holland’s Scarred but Smarter, John Marshall and Liza Marshall’s Off Our Chests.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A