Saturday, June 16, 2018

Life-Affirming Medical Memoir a Powerful, Inspirational Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As a healthy woman who had experienced a normal pregnancy only a year and a half ago, Carol J. Decker had no reason to expect that anything would be different with her second.  Despite having some flu-like symptoms, she entered the hospital on June 10, 2008, expecting nothing out of the ordinary.  Instead, she was rushed to the ER, where an emergency C-section was performed.  Even then, Carol could not have imagined how profoundly and irrevocably her life was about to change.

The 33-year-old mother had contracted an infection which turned into sepsis.  As toxins invaded every part of her body, Carol fought desperately for survival.  Although she ultimately won the war, she endured months of excruciating pain, humiliating helplessness, and overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair.  Left with permanent blindness, painful skin grafts, and three amputated limbs, Carol couldn't imagine how she could possibly go on.  How could she fulfill her roles as wife, mother, and productive citizen without sight?  Without legs?  Without an arm?  Wouldn't it have been better if she had just died on the operating table? 

In Unshattered, Carol J. Decker describes not just the agony of fighting sepsis but also the victory of choosing to live a life of beauty and joy, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.  As a narrator, she eschews sentimentality and banal platitudes, employing a raw candor that smacks of honesty and hard-won wisdom.  While Decker doesn't pull any punches, she does focus on the greatest lesson she learned from her experience:

"I began to weigh the thought of tragedy versus destiny.  I could not control the tragedy that befell my life, but I could control my destiny.  It was mine to determine by the choices I made.  I chose to believe I could lead a purposeful life." (quote from page 156 of an uncorrected proof)

An inspiring, life-affirming book about hope, faith, and triumphing over challenges, Unshattered is a short but powerful read.  I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a reminder that, no matter what might befall us, living one's best life is about choice, not chance.

For a touching teaser, click below:



(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for descriptions of medical procedures that might be too graphic/scary for young readers

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Unshattered from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain.  Thank you! 

14 comments:

  1. Sepsis is so frightening. I have one friend that died from it and another who had an experience like this author (with fewer amputations). This sounds linspiring

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    1. I hadn't heard much about sepsis before reading this book, but wow! It sounds incredibly harrowing.

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  2. Wow! I’d be thinking the same thing as her. I doubt I could be positive. Impressive.

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    1. Right? The author does talk about how she really thought suicide would make everything easier for her and the people around her, but she didn't even have the ability to kill herself. Instead she CHOSE to live and be joyful in a terrible situation.

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  3. Hey, that's my friend's sister! I guess I should read it.

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    1. Oh, really? She's very inspiring. You should definitely read her book!

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  4. Love that quote! These kinds of books always make me feel ashamed for complaining about the little things that go wrong in my own life; they also make me more grateful for the many blessings I've been given. :)

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    1. Right? I never even thought to be grateful for things like being able to get out of bed on my own every day or being able to move around on my own two feet. Reading this book definitely made me think about all the things in life that I take for granted every day.

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  5. I like memoirs and this sounds really good. Great review!

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    1. This is a good one. It's a fast, interesting read and although the writing is straightforward and simple, it still packs a punch!

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  6. I would read this book, because I enjoy memoirs of people who overcome adversity to live their best life. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I do, too. If you do end up reading it, let me know what you think!

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