Wow....wait, I need to capitalize this: WOW...This story took me through an emotional roller coaster that reminded me of all my personal shortcomingsWow....wait, I need to capitalize this: WOW...This story took me through an emotional roller coaster that reminded me of all my personal shortcomings in the relationship department with my own family and my Mom. The last time I was this wrecked was when my father passed away of cancer 2 years ago.
The story begins when the 70-year old mother of a family disappears from a Seoul train station. The family, 5 grown children and her husband, is desperate to find her and yet, on the other hand, are blaming themselves and each other for not spending more time or paying more attention to her. The book is divided into 4 major sections with 4 narrative voices: the oldest daughter, the oldest son, the husband and the mom herself, with a shorter epilogue again narrated by the oldest daughter. A second person narration is heavily used in the book..in all except for the personal narration of Mom. It takes a little getting used to but then ultimately one would start to identify with the voice:
"You were the one who always hung up first. You would say, "Mom, I'll call you back," and then you didn't. You didn't have time to sit and listen to everything your Mom had to say..."
"Mom was the kitchen and the kitchen was Mom. You never wondered, did Mom like being in the kitchen?"
As the story unfolds with each person's narration, we understand a little more about Mom, her love for all, her everyday life, her relationship with each of her children, her relationship with her husband and her husband's demanding older sister. We come to know that her children and her husband know very little of her, except that she was always there for them, taking care of them. When Mom's voice starts narrating at the end, we get the complete picture, almost...
It's no coincidence that the Korean word for "death" is a homonym for the number 4 (same in Chinese). This is a very sad story to read, yet I can't stop reading, especially toward the end. The translation is great, leaving Shin's original writing style unchanged. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves his/her Mom....more
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. ThisThis book is about love.
I usually do not read books about love, unless the writing captivates me and the words/phrases in the book make me think. This book drew me in from the first page until the end. The book was written in a narrative, story-telling style that is very intriguing and mythical. Having the majority of the story taking place in Burma also added to the allure.
The story begins when Julia Win arrived Burma, looking for her Father who left suddenly without a trace 4 years ago, leaving her Mom and two children. She met an older man in a tea house who asked her a question:
"Do you believe in love?" "Of course I am not referring to those outbursts of passion that drive us to do and say things that well will later regret, that delude us into think we cannot live without a certain person....a feeling that impoverishes rather than enriches us because we long to possess what we cannot, to hold on to what we cannot." "No. I speak of a love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death."
Thus this unforgettable story begins, a love that transcends 50 years, from Kalaw to New York and back; a love that defies time and distance. The descriptions of Asia and mythical practices and beliefs were very accurate, though unbelievable for most westerners. The ending was quite satisfactory in my point of view. Although I would love to hear more about Julia and his Dad's life in New York, as well as more descriptions of everyday life in Burma, since this story captivated me so. I guess I just didn't want it to end...
I do have a question remain after finishing the book: Is the bond of romantic love is ultimately stronger than the familial one, or are the two incomparable? Can they be exclusive? If they are, which one would you give up?...more
Someone gave me this book when I it was as popular among women as 50 Shades of Grey is today. I shoved it aside, and somehow stumbled upon it just theSomeone gave me this book when I it was as popular among women as 50 Shades of Grey is today. I shoved it aside, and somehow stumbled upon it just the other night. Since I'm older and wiser, I figure it might be a good time to read it and get it over with. I also want to see what all the hype was about. I finished the book in a bit more than an hour.
I think the book is highly overrated. Books written recently has much better language and prose, as well as more defined characters....more
What is it like to be a Mother, a woman, a working woman, a feminist, a baby boomer...or someone who's aging, who is at the end of their life with litWhat is it like to be a Mother, a woman, a working woman, a feminist, a baby boomer...or someone who's aging, who is at the end of their life with little options? What is faith, motherhood, marriage, work, being a woman, friendship, love, life, or God forbid, death? What in our life are absolutely not necessary or important?
I used to read Anna Quindlen's column religiously, not because we have a similar life as other readers claimed (her kids are older, her career is more successful, she's happily married...), it's because no one can analyze a complex situation or phenomenon, then is also able to explain it simply yet eloquently with a dash of humor. She can see everyday situation that we encounter in a deeper sense, in which she contributed to the loss of her Mom at a tender age of 19. She explained why mortality is always on her mind:
"But the gift that some of us have been given, in exchange for terrible loss, is the gift of that knowledge."
Being able to see and feel things deeply enables her to write in a language unlike all others. Her word choices are simple although carefully chosen and perfectly arranged. Yet they strike the perfect chord in my heart. Her advices are insightful, brilliant and sad in a way. The life that all of us women have to go through...We thought we had it so perfectly planned, not to avoid mistakes, not to delay anything or miss opportunities...We wanted the perfect job, the perfect husband, kids at the right age, yet the outcome is usually unpredictable. We go through exactly the same cycle, the generation before us, and the generation after us, although many circumstances have changed, most for the better.
"I would tell my twenty-two-year-old self that what lasts are things so ordinary she may not even see them: family dinners, fair fights, phone calls, friends. But of course the young woman I once was cannot hear me, not just because of time and space but because of the language, and the lessons, she has yet to learn. It's a miracle: somehow over time she learned them all just the same, by trial and error."
The whole book is full of insightful and poignant writings like the above, I highlighted all of them so I could go back and re-read them, think about them, ponder about her words, and how similar they are to my own, and many other women in the same stage of their life.
"There comes that moment when we finally know what matters and, perhaps more important, what doesn't, when we see that all the life lessons came not form what we had but from who we loved, and from the failures perhaps more than the successes..."
She also talked about our affinity to possessions, our refusal to retire or acknowledge mortality. She explained what a longer life expectancy and better healthcare has changed our expectation of life...for both better or worse. She explained the wonder of having girlfriends, although they might be different ones in different stages of our life. She indicated that women's movement has bought us great changes, thanks to all the women before us, but we are not yet there...Everything that we encounter or to be encountered in our life as a woman is in this gem of a book. I highly recommend it to all "finely aged" women out there. However, I do think that younger women will find this book useful, if they don't see it as preachy due to their age. Finally, Quindlen said since we don't have an absolute definition of "old", she was going to give it one:
"...OLD is wherever you haven't gotten to yet."
"When I think of that future, I know that my choices will narrow, have been narrowing as surely as a perspective drawing leading the eye to the focal point. I won't be going to medical school and becoming a surgeon. I'm not going to live in Italy or learn Chinese. I may have to become more thrifty and less spontaneous, may be lonelier and needier than I'd like..."
But, as she wrote, drawing is okay, sitting in a big chair with a long book is okay, spending long hours pulling together ingredients for a stew and staying inside all day while its aroma seeps into every corner of the house is okay, eating alone while reading a book is also okay. Life is....to be continued.
This book reads like part House, part Grey’s Anatomy and part diary, yet much, much more informative. By bringing us into his every day life and meetiThis book reads like part House, part Grey’s Anatomy and part diary, yet much, much more informative. By bringing us into his every day life and meeting his various patients at New York Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency department, Dr. Brendan Reilly explains, by example, why US healthcare, or more precise, ER care, has evolved into the complicated, hard-to-navigate maze that we see today; why most young med school graduates decide to to become specialists instead of primary physicians, which our country desperately needs.
The title, One Doctor, was used since all we need is this one doctor who's our advocate. Due to the regulation and involvement of the health insurance industry, most of us do not have a doctor who deeply concerns about us, who knows us well, who rallies for the right care in our behalf. On the other hand, we all have a battery of specialists. We have a cardiologist for our heart, a rheumatogist for our arthritis, an urologist for our prostates...and so on. Specialists make much more money, and where we are referred to once our ailment is out of our primary care’s scope. But, they usually do not know our complete health history since they only focus on a specific part of us. Dr. Reilly claimed that the patient with the one doctor that truly care for him, follows him over time and know him well would win this rat race of so-called American healthcare. It’s the difference between life and death sometimes…or worse, between death and insufferable life.
Sometimes when a patient or family says, “Do everything for me, doctor,” it unnecessarily that they want to try everything possible to live. Sometimes they do not want to hurt the family members who can’t let go, or they’re scared, or they have no idea hanging on could be worse than death. It’s the doctor, a good doctor’s job to find out what these patients really want, since some scenarios can be really worse than death. We all have a different trade-off limit between how much we are willing to suffer to prolong our life, it’s also a responsible doctor’s job to find out. From the various cases we encounter along with Dr. Reilly, we acquire a better understanding of the end of life, terminal illness, palliative care (which is not used enough), the quality of life, letting go, who to assign as surrogate and all other choices we might face in the future which we most likely never prepared ourselves for. We also will learn about the not perfect, but needed advanced directives as well.
As Dr. Reilly stated, “Most of the sad stories happen when this process doesn’t start until it’s too late. That’s how all those folks wind up comatose in nursing home and intensive care units, fogged with drugs and flogged by machines, not a prayer of getting better. It’s a living hell—and the only hyperbole in that phrase is the ‘living’ part.”
Dr. Reilly is a brilliant storyteller and great writer, and also a rare doctor that deeply cares for his patients. I can feel his real concern and love for life and the world. I could also feel the empathy he has for his patients and their families by reading the way he put his thoughts on paper. Several of these stories were deeply moving: Mr. Gunther, who endured a progressive form of cancer earlier in life who now faces another one; Mr. Atkins with a rapidly progressive terminal illness, who does not have time to prepare his family for his death; Ms. Rhodik, who refused to speak, but her family’s decisions are endangering her health. Others were down right disturbing: Fred, who decided that “losing his marbles” was never an option…and many more. We also learn about the cost of a misdiagnosis, as well as the cost of doing too much.
This is a deeply moving book with many though-provoking stories, and lots of useful information from a good and genuinely caring doctor who has over 40 years of experience. Read this book, for your elders, for yourself, for your children…and for the hope of a better health care system in the near future. This book will make you a better patient, advocate, caretaker, healthcare consumer and....human.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an advance reading copy. ...more
Some reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction vSome reviewers called Anna Quindlen's Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake a nonfiction work of finding peace with getting old, and this book her fiction version of the same theme. I totally agree. However, somehow I still enjoy reading her nonfictions a bit more. Her nonfiction writings are much less restrained, the jokes funnier, while her fictions can only go as far as the characters be able to reach, and her characters are not as likable as she is....more