Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman
2013 by Algonquin Books
Finished on March 31, 2016
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
One of America's most beloved writers shares her suggestions for finding beauty in the world even during the toughest times.
Survival lessons provides a road map of how to reclaim your life from this day forward, with ways to reenvision everything--from relationships with friends and family to the way you see yourself. As Alice Hoffman says, "In many ways I wrote Survival Lessons to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that's all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss. I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts of sorrow and joy, and that it is impossible to have one without the other. I wrote to remind myself that despite everything that was happening to me, there were still choices I could make."
Wise, gentle, and wry, Alice Hoffman teaches us all how to choose what matters most.
This slim book (a mere 83 pages) can easily be read in an afternoon, but I chose to sample a few chapters at a time, allowing each to sink in before moving on to the next. I have a few pages marked with Post-It flags, but in spite of discovering a few gems, I was hoping for a bit more substance.
I've always believed there is a very thin line that separates readers and writers. You make a leap over that line when there's a book you want to read and you can't find it and you have to write it yourself. All the while I was in treatment [breast cancer] I was looking for a guidebook. I needed help in my new situation. I needed to know how people survived.
It took all this time for me to figure out what I would have most wanted to hear when I was newly diagnosed, when I lost the people I loved, when I was deeply disappointed in myself and the turns my life had taken. In many ways I wrote this book to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that's all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss. There were many times when I forgot about roses and starry nights. I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts sorrow and joy, and that it is impossible to have one without the other. This is what makes us human. This is why our world is so precious. I wrote to remind myself that in the darkest hour the roses still bloom, the stars still come out at night. And too remind myself that, despite everything that was happening to me, there were still choices I could make.
I've read several novels by Alice Hoffman, so I was curious when I saw this small book on the shelf in the health/cancer section of the store. It's a short, sweet book that would make a nice gift for someone going through a difficult time, whether that be cancer or the loss of a loved one.