HUNDRED PERCENT CHANCE follows the story of a twenty-year old college student who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia while studying overseas in Lancaster, England. He notices -- and then ignores -- a slew of obvious early symptoms, as you might expect from someone at that age so far from home.
This memoir is funny and angry and hopeful and sad and realistic. A coming-of-age story with cancer, set mostly in Seattle of the early nineties, it does not pretend that the path to lasting health comes easily or that a sunny disposition is all you need for everything to work out. It is about much more than just beating cancer: tackling adversity through patience and perseverance, stumbling often and getting back up anyway, leaning on laughter and love and friendship to find a path through the challenges life throws our way.
Concept/Idea: Brown presents a compelling journey from pre-diagnosis to recovery that movingly explores the impact of leukemia on a young person's life. Frequent unexpected humor provides refreshing levity. Readers battling their own diagnosis--or other overwhelming circumstances--will value Brown's candid insights.
Prose: Brown's voice is immediately distinctive and inviting, with a clear and easy storytelling style.
Originality: While memoirs of surviving disease are plenty, Hundred Percent Chance stands apart through its genuine humor and unflinching portrayal of both the physical and psychological struggles that accompany a diagnosis of disease. Brown avoids inspirational platitudes, instead demonstrating the need for perspective and perseverance in the face of illness.
Execution: Every person Brown introduces, whether their role is significant or small, will leave a memorable impression on readers. This memoir's focus on the tiny moments that ultimately shape and define a life, are particularly poignant and engrossing.
Date Submitted: October 03, 2019
Brown frequently strays into medical minutiae, but it’s clear that his knowledge of clinical terms is hard-won, and readers who are personally familiar with AML will nod along. It’s surprisingly easy to walk the hospital corridors with Brown as he recounts adjusting to his new situation, often interjecting unexpected humor into the dreariness of his grueling medical marathon. He thoroughly evokes the curious mix of tedium and terror that is the life of an oncology patient.
Even three decades after his diagnosis, Brown’s perspective remains entirely about survival, without time or energy to seek meaning in illness or look beyond the personal. There are few references to his illness’s effect on his family or the difference health insurance made to his situation, and anyone looking for deep insights into how surviving cancer changes one’s approach to life should look elsewhere. Brown’s clear-cut prose and chronological storytelling keep the focus on the circumstances of his diagnosis and treatment, making his memoir truly a patient’s tale.
Takeaway: Cancer patients and their families will appreciate how Brown’s memoir highlights the stark reality of battling leukemia and the extraordinary determination to survive.
Great for fans ofWhen Breath Becomes Air.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
Brown’s straightforward, unpretentious writing style is compelling and brutally honest. The use of present tense, first person, amplifies the effect. His wry sense of humor is both endearing and heartbreaking. After learning he was in remission, Brown quips, "It's great to be in remission. Great with a capital ‘G’ and a Tony the Tiger drawl." Neither victim nor hero, the author survived with humor, grit, and the support of medical care-givers, family and friends.
Regardless of one’s personal experience with cancer or critical illness, these pages relate an essential human experience: the struggle to survive against the odds. This universal theme will resonate with almost any reader.
While the content of the book is raw, brutal, and honest, it is Brown’s lively, rebellious attitude—and understanding that he was lucky to go into remission so quickly and to receive such excellent care—that makes this book a triumph. Every awful moment is balanced by arresting, rambunctious prose, and the book’s personality is magnetic. Descriptions of painful experiences are poignant, and both Brown’s internal and external worlds are illustrated with earnestness.
Told in chronological order and evenly paced, the book flows from one event to the next. Every scene plays an important role, whether it’s placing an experience in the context of the setting, further sharpening focus on a particular person’s influence, or deepening emotional impact. Still, as Brown says, there are no “boundless epiphanies about the importance of embracing life” here, and no “bolt of lightning [where] your narrator is forever changed.” There is only moving on and taking life one day at a time.
Hundred Percent Chance is an inspiring, provocative memoir about dealing with cancer that maintains its sense of humor when the going gets rough.
A realistic, in-your-face honest and down-to-earth memoir about the rigors of treating and surviving cancer, handled with both intimacy and concern.
Brown’s writing is lively and lyrical, with moments of intense description offset by humorous ones ... For those interested in seeing the toll leukemia can take on a young, healthy person, Brown’s account offers the details in searing prose.
An intense, deftly composed cancer narrative.
The writing is gorgeous, almost lyrical, and it captures the voice of a young man in the '90s, one filled with strength and eloquence. Hundred Percent Chance: A Memoir evokes powerful emotions in readers -- hope and despair, joy and frustration, love and pain -- but the throbbing life within the protagonist, a life that permeates the narrative, will keep readers turning the pages.