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Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, A Chorus of Hope

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  297 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews

Strong at the Broken Places is the remarkable story of five ordinary people trapped in the complex world of serious chronic illness. In this intimate portrait, acclaimed journalist Richard M. Cohen probes lives of sickness as these individuals struggle to cope.

In 2003 Cohen published Blindsided, a bestselling memoir of illness. The outpouring of support revealed to him tha
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published January 2nd 2008 by Harper (first published 2008)
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Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This should be on the list of 1000 Essential Books to Read. Its a humanizing book - I don't know how else to describe it. We like to read about explorers, athletes, people who climb Mt. Everest, people who escape from disaster/war/oppression - we like to see what keeps these people going when they are strained to the limit - but we see someone in a wheelchair and we look away. We are uncomfortable. These are the warriors among us, and we don't give them the time of day. I loved this book, especi ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope is an intimate look at living with chronic illness. Author Richard M. Cohen, who himself has multiple sclerosis, works with five participants who have various chronic illnesses to capture their stories and help others understand the overwhelming toll that chronic illness can take. The participants are Denise, who has has ALS (often known as Lou Gherig’s disease), Buzz, who has has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Ben, who has muscular dystro ...more
Astrid Edwards
Stop for a moment, and consider the likely fact that you know someone living with chronic disease. It is increasingly prevalent. And they may or may not have told you, because such diseases are often stigmatised.
Richard M. Cohen collates five searing accounts of chronic disease. As a person with Multiple Sclerosis, he explores the lives of others living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), muscular dystrophy, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Crohn's disease and bipolar disorder.
This is a disturbing an
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book is the story of 5 people with various medical conditions, and how they deal with their illnesses. The problems are a woman with Lou Gehrig's disease, a man with terminal cancer, man with muscular dystrophy, a woman with Crohn's Disease, and a man with Bi-Polar disorder. This was a tough book for me to get through. The people who's stories are told were brave and tough, but I found the telling to be on the depressing side. There were nuggats here and there that I would like to remember, ...more
Nov 13, 2010 marked it as someday-not-today
I began reading STRONG AT THE BROKEN PLACES on March 31, 2012, when reading anything longer than a prayer was not on my to-do list. With four killer diseases, my mom was still hanging on to life. Her date of death, April 17, was -- on the Hebrew calendar -- the day after the second anniversary of my brother's death. Although (eight years ago) I found Richard M. Cohen's BLINDSIDED quite interesting and inspiring, I've noticed that I keep walking by my copy of STRONG AT THE BROKEN PLACES -- and NO ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book chronicles the lives of Five citizens living with various disabilities and although each wreaks havoc on them in different ways, they share similarities in courage, self determination and public ignorance. Each story tells of the person finding hope and strength under the most difficult of circumstances and how we, as able bodied people, should strive to be more like them. Each story is inspirational and revealing; and show how each one is determined to live a good life, on their own te ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this, but for some reason, throughout each one of the five separate profiles in this book, the author doesn’t use any contractions when writing the dialogue. This was fairly jarring, since no one truly talks like that in their everyday lives. I’m not sure why he made that choice but I think if he would’ve transcribed the dialogue as it was actually spoken, it would have allowed readers to better connect with the people telling their stories.
Beth Shapiro
Jun 29, 2008 is currently reading it
Wonderful exploration of what it means to live with different types of chronic illness. One chapter is about a social worker in the Shaker area.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Strong at The Broken Places – Adalah sebuah buku yang mengisahkan tentang 5 orang penderita penyakit kronis yang tidak dapat disembuhkan. Penulisnya sendiri, Richard M. Cohen adalah seorang jurnalis penderita Multiple Sclerosis yaitu penyakit yang menyerang system saraf pusat yang membuat terganggunya penyampaian ‘pesan’ antara otak dan bagian-bagian tubuh lainnya.

Buku ini diawali dengan berkumpulnya 5 orang penderita sakit di Harvard University untuk berbagi kisah mereka dengan mahasiswa kedokt
Haya Dodokh
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Strong at the Broken Places follows five individuals' stories, interviewing them and their family members with sincere interest in both learning from them and in sharing with readers what was learned.
An honest look into chronic illness and relationships.
Dustin Hartley
A little disappointing; definitely not the most technical of books.
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a powerful book about ordinary yet extraordinary people living with chronic illnesses. What they share is an incredible determination to live the best life that they can, not to be defined by their diseases, a commitment to hope and sharing this with others via advocacy and the alienation of the sick in a society that often (if not almost always) marginalizes them.

Now, it's not perfect - some of the sections are overly long without and the author's tendency to inject his own views into h
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, nf-biography
I can't write the review as well as Goodreads did so am leaving most of it "as is":
Cohen spent three years chronicling the lives of five diverse "citizens of sickness": Denise, who suffers from ALS; Buzz, whose Christian faith helps him deal with his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; Sarah, a determined young woman with Crohn's disease; Ben, a college student with muscular dystrophy; Larry, whose bipolar disorder is hidden within. The five are different in age and gender, race and economic status, but the
Jul 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book not too long ago and was given a new insight into how people who live with illnesses try to cope. I didn't like how he was always giving his input in the stories. I wanted to be able to read the stories without him talking about his own opinions, experiences and how they compared the people in the book. I didn't mind that he was the one who was narrating, and I liked how he approached the people like friends. I didn't agree with everything that they said in the book though. I di ...more
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought this book was good in the aspect that it gives a very in depth look at the lives of people who have chronic diseases. It goes into detail how those people initially dealt with the understanding that they'd probably never lead normal healthy lives and also how they cope with the constant health issues that their diseases bring. I liked the idea of using 5 different people with 5 unrelated diseases and how in different stages of life they were dealing with everything. The only thing I re ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed the different stories and perspectives from people with different chronic illnesses, I didn't really like the book as a whole. The author was completely overbearing with his opinions and I found it hard to connect with the individual stories when the author was always interjecting with his opinions on how they cope. The author mentions he's an angry person and to me, it felt like he was projecting that anger onto the other people in this book (making them out to be angrier than t ...more
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author, Richard M. Cohen, suffers from multiple schlerosis and has had two bouts of colon cancer. In this book, he highlights the lives of five people who fight personal battles with chronic and/or terminal illness: Denise (ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease); Buzz (non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma); Sarah (Crohn's disease); Ben (muscular dystrophy); and Larry (bipolar disorder). Different in age, gender, race, and economic status, they are alike in wanting to live life on their own terms. After forming inten ...more
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I think this book would have been much better if the author would have kept his opinions more to himself or strictly in the Reflections section. I found Richard to seem quite bitter and angry that he is sick and then try and push that on the others. Numerous times I found it annoying that he would continuously ask them if they were angry or why they weren't angry or that he would be frustrated, etc.

The stories were interesting and very truthful. Although I do not have an illness it opened my eye
Barbara M
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Richard Cohen interviewed five very different people all coping with serious illnesses. Some had faith, some did not. Some had a great deal of support - some had little support.

Despite the serious nature of their illnesses - the book is inspirational and hopeful.

It is helpful to read this book if you are now or will at some point in the future encounter a family member or friend with a serious illness. Richard's interviews with seriously ill individuals demonstrates that not all of us cope in t
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author, Richard Cohen lives with Multiple Sclerosis and a history of colon cancer. He is a journalist, the husband of Meredith Viera and a father. Richard interviews 5 people who live across the United States, all with different chronic diseases. His aim is to gain insight from each one of them, to find out how their lives have been impacted by their disease.

My favorite chapter was the last. All five people gather with Richard to speak to a medical school class at Harvard. Their reflections
Terry Crawford Palardy
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent follow up to Richard Cohen's first book, which focused on his diagnosis of MS and then Cancer. Strong at the Broken Places follows five individuals' stories, interviewing them and their family members with sincere interest in both learning from them and in sharing with readers what was learned. Perseverance, courage, faith ... all of these shone brightly in each story, along with the sobering colors of realism.

Cohen also hosts a website where people with chronic illnesses c
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book was an easy read -- it helped me to find camaraderie in the painful and difficult world of chronic illness. The 5 people who are a part of this book represent hope and coping in very different ways. What I most appreciated was how real they were.

I believe that this book would be a worthwhile read for anyone; I'm sure most people know someone with a chronic illness. Additionally, I believe this book would help anyone to find hope in their difficult circumstances and perhaps help the re
Sandra Strange
By Meredith Vieira's journalist husband, who knows his subject well as a sufferer of MS, this book examines the lives of five very different people--each of whom suffers from a chronic and destructive illness, from Crohn's to ALS, to muscular dystrophy to bipolar disorder. Each faces his/her illness with courage, one with faith. Excellent insights for any reader. Language and adult subject matter discussed frankly make the book adult or for mature teens.
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Cohen spent a year interviewing and getting to know five other people with chronic illnesses and their families. This book (or at least similar material) should be mandatory reading for all medical professionals to bring to the fore how chronically ill people see themselves and their situation, how they view others' perceptions of them, and how the medical community can be more empathic and supportive of them.
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
it has taken me a long while to commit to any book and finish it. however, i'm glad that i read this book. if you know anyone that suffers from either chronic or mental illness, then you should pick this up. i am constantly in search of understanding of myself and other people... this helped me.
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read in a long time. The story of 5 individuals dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses, it should be a must read for anyone going into the medical profession, anyone who cares for someone with a life long disease, and anyone who wants to gain a greater understanding of what so many people go through. Loved it!
Ashley Bailey
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
i picked this book up after seeing it talked about on oprah. it was really good...not exactly a happy book but i learned a lot about different people and how they deal with different was sad but at the same time you see these very courageous people just trying to fit into everyday life like you and me....
Andrea Kjos
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great non-fiction on understanding how average people and families cope and live with chronic illness. I loved the diversity of people (age, race, gender, religion) and their experiences. This provides a important window into patients' lived experience for young students who are learning about what it means to be effective and empathic health care providers. I would also recommend it to anyone.
Jan 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
I don't like Richard Cohen's writing style. It's very difficult to figure out the time-line of events in each person's story (very scattered tenses) or whether some of the statements he gives are his own thoughts or the feelings of the subject. Just frustrating. I would have rather read an autobiography from each person.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: any-own
This book is about five (to some extent six, if you include the author) people who are living with different chronic, debilitating diseases. This book reminds me that I am not the only person trying to live with a difficult illness, and that there are other people who may not understand exactly what I am going through, but understand what it is to struggle every day.
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