Book Review: What We Have: One Family’s Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival by Amy Boesky

What We Have by Amy BoeskyWhat would you do if your family was genetically predisposed to cancer? Would you live your life in fear of developing the disease or would you live every day as if it were your last?

This is the backdrop against which author and English professor, Amy Boesky, has lived her life. The women in her family have what can only be described as a generational curse ~ by the age of forty~five all of them develop and ultimately die from ovarian cancer.

This memoir is a touching tribute to the women in her family and their attempts to live life to the fullest even in the face of overwhelming odds. Boesky’s entire life was built on a “simple” plan: go to college, marry, have babies and remove ovaries before thirty~five. But her whole life was turned upside down when the possibility of genetic testing became an option. Should she and her sisters get the test? They already know that they carry the gene for ovarian cancer but with the death of their mother, they found out they also carried the gene for breast cancer. What does this mean for their daughters?

Written with a mix of fear, humor and wistfulness, I found this book to be heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.  My heart ached for Amy’s family as she discussed the legacy of death that envelopes her family but I also cheered as they embraced their family history and moved forward.  One of the more poignant moments in the book was when Amy returned home after she had breast surgery and her daughters, warned not to jump on her, stood back staring at her with fear in their eyes. I remember when I came home from my surgery after thyroid cancer and my own babies looked at me with that same fear and I cried. This book is an emotional roller coaster that will cause you to look at “what we have” and realize that it is not the things that matter but the time spent with family and friends.

Disclosure:  I received this book free from Penguin Group in exchange for a review.  I am not required to write a positive review, just an honest one.

Living Outside the Stacks is using WP-Gravatar