Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: No Cure for Being Human

We live in a culture that promises that we can control our lives--we can get that dream job, lose those pesky ten pounds, and find love if we just follow certain steps. But of course, nothing is certain. Kate Bowler was 35 years old when she was told she had stage four colon cancer and just a fourteen percent chance of living for the next two years. Like the professor and scholar that she is, she set off to figure out how to live when life is precious but not guaranteed.

This is Kate's second book about her experiences with cancer (you should also read her book Everything Happens for a Reason). No Cure For Being Human focuses on her time in a clinical trial, when she got on a plane to Georgia every week to receive harsh drugs that might save her life. A large part of this narrative is Kate trying to understand what it means to be a good patient when her doctors leave her in the dark about a test result or her mother begs her to rest. 

Reading Kate Bowler's words feels like a gift each and every time because she gives us all permission to admit that we are not in control. She is brilliant, hilarious, and earnest, like when she recalls arguing with the manager of a hospital gift shop about selling books that promise she will get better. Just a few pages later, she writes about leaving the hospital and tearfully asking her dad how she will know she is living the right way in light of her limited time. 

In writing this review, I basically re-read this book and wrote down lines from every other page. This book recognizes that sometimes having faith is not enough. We need to speak out loud the reality that we are scared that we won't have enough time, that we won't accomplish everything we hoped to, that our children or friends won't know how much we loved them. While most of us are not wondering if we will see next year, the reality is that time is finite for all of us. "No matter how carefully we schedule our days, master our emotions, and try to wring our best life now from our better selves, we cannot solve the problem of finitude. We will always want more." If we focus on this truth instead of the catchy slogans about living our best life, will we actually see what is important? Kate Bowler (and I) think we just might. 

No Cure for Being Human
(And Other Truths I Needed to Hear)
By Kate Bowler
Random House September 2021
224 pages
Read via Netgalley 

No comments:

Post a Comment