Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Soul to Soul by Deborah Masel

The writer tells us in the first few sentences that her book is a sad one: a woman's story as she accepts diagnosis and struggles with stage 4 metatastic breast cancer and wends her way through and often unkind and mixed-up health care system (Australian).  She requests that we not stop reading even though the journey is a hard one to bear, and it was this simple introduction which lured me in and kept me with it.  I felt that I had been chosen to bear witness to the depths of suffering of the human soul.

The memoir was most interesting early in the book when she is clearly ill and waiting for the doctor's diagnosis.  Her busy life barely lets her rest and it is hard for her to change gears and accept that she must stop and be sick for awhile.  Also in the early chapters of the book she goes back through her life and recounts various adventures she had as a young student and a young wife.  She recounts recent tales of being in Israel during the recent Lebanon war.  I found her method of storytelling, going back and forth and introducing us to her rich and varied life, interesting.  It kept me turning the pages.

The constant turning back to tell a story of and earlier version of herself made me hang in limbo about the Cancer story...so it unfolded painfully, but slowly.

It lost a little steam in the last half when it was simply chapter after chapter of pain and suffering.  She had some epiphanies about accepting death and her journey with the Torah (she was an avid Torah scholar and teacher) always presented divine revelation, but the reading was not as compelling.  I felt that the recent chapters were too close to her.  Like she just had that treatment last month and was just now writing about it.  A writer always needs distance between herself and her subject. But then, it was sad to realize, that Deborah might not have much time to reflect.

The story ends with a craniotomy to remove some tumors from her brain and as far as I know Deborah is still alive in Australia teaching Torah and enjoying her family and her precious life.

I would recommend this to anyone who is struggling with life or death issues or who wants to read about the ups and downs of the medical establishment.

Please ask me if you would like to borrow my copy. This was an early review.

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