This diary of his struggle is inspiring in its clear examination of his trials as well as in sharing a spirit of hope. The material can get dense: Cesarini draws on his oncology expertise to explain his medical complications and thoroughly break down the logic of various treatment options, differentiating between CT scans and X-rays, and explaining, in footnotes, how to make sense of terms like “statistically significant.” The journal-style narration (“Sunday, September 8: I feel about the same today as I did yesterday”) conveys the grinding quality of a protracted health crisis but at times may prove monotonous for readers expecting the scenecraft of more polished memoirs. Cesarini’s candid photos throughout invite readers to feel a personal connection–as does his moving closing narration of an imagined vacation with his husband, a memorialization of a trip that Covid-19 made impossible.
Cesarini hoped, in writingSurvival Symphony, to offer hope to lung cancer patients, demonstrating people can live with the disease. In this, he succeeds. He illuminates the urgency of love and community and the importance of being empowered to make effective decisions. Cancer, in his words, “Is not how I’m going to die.”
Takeaway: This detailed memoir of facing cancer offers crucial insights and encouragement to keep fighting.
Great for fans of: Joy Clausen Soto’s Joy, John Kuby’s No Quit In Me.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A