Grace – Book Review

And so here I am, a “normal,” healthy, fifteen year old girl, with an incredible story behind her two brown eyes. I’ve had forty-eight doses and sixteen days of chemo, well over fifty tests, a trip to the ER, two doses of morphine, three drug reactions, forty-one shots, over one hundred fifty needle pokes, fourteen days of radiation, an eating disorder, a mass the size of a softball, a PICC line, a port, two biopsies, a bone marrow aspiration, total hair loss, nine months of intense therapy, and so many doctor appointments that I lost count a year ago.

Now I have written a book. My dance bag is slung around my shoulder, right at this instant, and I am getting ready to dance my soul out for two straight hours…I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. My heart is filled with an indescribable feeling at this moment. It can only be described with one word…grace. – from the ARC of Grace, page 289 –

Melinda Marchiano was only thirteen years old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma – a cancer of the immune system. What followed was four courses of chemotherapy, as well as fourteen days of radiation…a debilitating string of treatments which left Marchiano weak, ill, and emotionally and physically exhausted. Throughout her ordeal, she clung to the support of her family, friends and the medical professionals who led her through the medical maze of tests and treatments. She also relied on her quirky sense of humor, the therapy dogs who snuggled with her in her hospital bed (as well as her own dog Larry who instinctively knew when she needed him the most), and her growing faith in God. In Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery, Marchiano takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster of what it is like to confront childhood cancer and win.

Yes, cancer is a roller coaster, and it seems that when you’re not at the highest or the lowest point, you’re in rapid transit either up or down. – from the ARC of Grace, page 281 –

Marchiano’s story is not an easy one to read. It is difficult to hear her pain and fear. It is mind-numbing to think of the aggressive chemotherapy which made her sicker before it made her better. Despite this, Marchiano treats her readers to the silver linings beneath the dark clouds.

Cancer is battle after battle, struggle after struggle. And then, something beautiful happens that keeps you going. – from the ARC of Grace, page 124 –

Melinda Marchiano is not just a cancer survivor – she is also a gifted dancer who found dance to be a motivator through the dark days of illness…the light at the end of the tunnel. There were dark days of depression, the spiral into an eating disorder, and the struggle to find joy again…but through it all was Marchiano’s love of dance.

Grace is a memoir from the heart of a young girl. Melinda Marchiano’s voice jumps off the page with its honesty. I never forgot I was reading the words of a teenager who showed remarkable courage and determination in her fight against cancer. Marchiano spares the reader nothing, and because of this, I must caution readers who might be just starting their own journey through cancer. I think this is a book which can provide hope to others, but may be hard to read for those who have not reached the other side of their cancer treatment. The words and emotions are scary. And so, for some, this might be a memoir which would best be read in retrospective…after they’ve traveled their own road through cancer.

The writing in Grace is sometimes uneven (although it should be noted I read an Advance Readers Edition, not a finished copy)…it is very much the voice of its author. Despite this, there were moments of enlightenment and brilliance; times when I paused in my reading and marveled at the maturity of this fourteen-year old’s observations of the world.

Readers who wish to take Marchiano’s journey with her will be rewarded to a glimpse inside a young girl’s heart.

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the author for review on my blog.

Consider joining my project Reading for a Cure which helps raise awareness and funds to find a cure for childhood cancer.

Clicking on the link below will take you to Indiebound where you can find a link to purchase Grace from an Indie Bookstore. If you chose to purchase the book in this manner, I will earn a small commission based on the sale.

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  1. I’m so impressed that you were able to read this book at this point in your life. It sounds like a fantastic story, but I just don’t think I could handle it right now.

    • Lee on September 16, 2010 at 11:43

    I agree with Kathy… what courage it took for you to read Melinda’s book with your own loving concerns right now. It’s obvious that you are passionate and sincere in your desire to make a difference in raising awareness and in finding a cure for childhood cancer. Your Reading for a Cure is a beautiful way to give others an opportunity to help.
    Thank you for having the courage to not turn away. Childhood cancer is horrific, but if no one looks, no one will see, and no one will help.
    God bless you for helping the children!

    • zibilee on September 17, 2010 at 05:44

    It sounds as though this one can be a tough and scary read, but also rewarding. I also am impressed that you had the courage to read this one right now, and think that you wrote a fabulous review on it.

  2. I would love to read this one but think it would break my heart. I’d have to pick the right moment to “go there”.

    • Kailana on September 18, 2010 at 02:02

    I am not sure if I could read this book or not. I read another cancer survivor book last year and I didn’t like it, but then I felt terrible for not liking it and have never actually managed to review it…

  3. I, too, agree with Kathy. You have a huge spirit.

    • Molly on September 26, 2010 at 06:16

    I’m not sure how I missed this review when you first published it, but I am glad that you provided the link. While I know that this would be a difficult book to read, it sounds as though it is one that I should read. Thank you, Wendy, for this introduction.

    • Wendy on October 1, 2010 at 06:01

    Kathy: It was difficult, but I think books come to us when we need them…and it was ironic that this book came up for review when it did.

    Lee: Thank you for your kind words. I do feel passionate about this cause…and I hope my small contribution/effort will help. *hugs*

    Zibilee: Thanks – it is a tough read, but also filled with hope.

    Kathleen: I know what you mean – although, keep in mind…Melinda is one of the survivors and so she offers hope to children and their families who are facing cancer and treatment right now.

    Kailana: I think that many people shy away from books like Melinda’s…but the rewards can be there if you take the risk. Sorry to hear you didn’t like the previous book you read on this subject.

    Beth: Thank you.

    Molly: You’re welcome – did you see I’m giving away five copies of the book? It is not too late to enter the giveaway…check out my side bar.

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