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How to Climb the Eiffel Tower

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  101 ratings  ·  42 reviews
A moving, surprisingly humorous, sometimes snarky novel about life, friendship... and cancer

Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-imposed isolation until a cancer diagnosis cracks her hard exterior. Lara’s journey through cancer treatment should be the worst year of her life. Instead,
Paperback, first, 326 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Light Messages Publishing
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“You can see a person's whole life in the cancer they get.”
----Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Elizabeth Hein, an American writer, who herself being a cancer survivor, crafts an edgy and inspiring contemporary story about fighting cancer and making new friends on the road to fighting cancer, in her new book, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower .

Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-impos
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
When I first read the blurb for this book I had my reservations about it. I am a cancer survivor as well and I was really hoping that this book would not fluff up the experience. It doesn't and on top of that, it is just a genuinely well written and entertaining book. I later read the author bio and saw that the author is a cancer survivor as well, so I really felt like although this was fiction, she wrote it from a place of personal knowledge and that made it even better.

The things that the ma
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author hooked me with the opening sentence: "Ellery Cancer Center protruded from the hospital's facade like a glass tumor."

This is how Lara Blaine, the central character, begins her journey through cancer treatment. That is challenge enough for any woman, but added to that is the emotional trauma she still carries from an abusive past. She has tried to hide from that past by maintaining a rigid routine of work and exercise, but this cancer thing throws that routine out the window. As the tre
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Light Messages Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Check out my review on the How to Climb the Eiffel Tower's backcover and here

HOW TO CLIMB THE EIFFEL TOWER by Elizabeth Hein, is edgy, funny, and empowering as one strong woman tries to hide from her abusive past on her own, until a tragedy happens, and gains the courage to love and embrace life in an entirely new way.

Set in a small town of fictional Magnuson, the Piedmont area of NC, ne
Sandra Heinzman
This book is about a young, single woman who is diagnosed with cervical cancer. It's a novel, but feels like it could be a memoir.

I loved this book! As a breast cancer survivor myself, at first I wasn’t so sure about this book as it seemed a tad “weird.” But it is a novel and it’s about cervical cancer, which is totally different. And it’s about someone who is all alone at first, with no one to confide in and to tell about her diagnosis, and to take with her to her doctor’s visits. I felt so sor
Darcie Rowan
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I saw that bestselling author Summer Kinard endorsed this book, I knew I had to read it. First because I've had a few set backs recently that required the rallying help of my closest friends, but also because the plot centers around the amazing bond that only girlfriends can give each other in the hardest times of our lives and the most joyous! And sometimes you meet friends in the most unexpected places, like Dunkin Donuts, or in main character Lara's case, in the waiting room of her oncol ...more
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-romance-drama
Wow, this one turned out to be a read and a half, which grabbed me right from the start.

Lara is 29 and leads a very solitary life. She is dedicated to her job despite having not only the boss but also the colleagues from hell. She goes from work every night to a gruelling exercise regime, specifically so that she can sleep without the nightmares that haunt her, reminding her of dark events in her past. Her life is about to change forever though when she is diagnosed with cervical cancer.

This is
Apr 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although Elizabeth Hein's newest book is fiction, the story, characters, and places are as real as if I were looking through a window and watching this story line play out.

Hein had me with her first sentence: "Ellery Cancer Center protruded from the hospital's facade like a glass tumor." However, little did I know what the back story and underlying theme would be so I moved on slowly wondering just what import there was in climbing the Eiffel Tower.

Once I met Lara and learned of her difficult, n
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book because it is real. The characters and plot are completely original which makes it interesting to read. It teaches you that everything has a meaning and happens for a reason while giving an ultimately positive view on something so terrible such as cancer. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a story that feels "true" and isn't sugar-coated and that can put your life in a new perspective. ...more
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower is a genuine portrayal of what it is like to have cancer. Elizabeth Hein does not downplay the physical or emotional aspects that result from such a life-altering diagnosis. While parts of the novel are heartbreaking, it is not bleak or depressing. Instead it is an uplifting story of friendship and healing for main character Lara Blaine as she triumphs over not only cancer but her traumatic past as well.

In the beginning, Lara is not an easy character to li
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: heartfelt-books, arc
How to Climb the Eiffel Tower follows the motivational story of a young woman, Lara Blaine who has -wait for it- cancer. Diagnosed with cervical cancer, Lara Blaine slowly learns how to accept it and carry on with her life. Lara went from being a woman who is only living on the sidelines because of her dark past that she desperately fled from to transform into someone who she wouldn't have become had she not gotten cancer. Instead of being taken down by cancer, Lara finds herself going through ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
sitename] My Review

I received a copy of How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein in exchange for an honest review.

Lara Blaine has lived in self imposed isolation in an attempt to hide from her past and her life very much revolves around a regimen of work and exercise.  Then one day a diagnosis changes everything.  She meets Jane at treatment and they form a tight bond, something the past Lara would never allow. 
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Net Galley, Light Messages Publishing and #RBRT for the copy!

Originally posted here: http://onlybooksandhorses.wordpress.c...

This book has become one of my all-time favourites. My ability to form a coherent review may be severely stunted by how much I loved it.

The story follows Lara Blaine, a super-fit workaholic who’s running from a tragic past. When she gets diagnosed with cancer, the world of relative safety she’s built around herself is shaken to the foundations.

While the story and
Patty Mccormick
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book presents us with the real life experience of what it is like to have cancer. The main character, Lara has cervical cancer. She meets and makes friends with a woman who has lung cancer. Later in the story she meets a man who has had bone cancer. These are some very heavy topics, but the tone is one of empowerment and living well. The characters show growth and strength as they deal with their health issues.

I found this book to be very realistic and accurate in both what the characters
M.L. LeGette
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
With a horrific past that left her bitter, closed off, and emotionally crippled, it is with the startling diagnosis of cancer that Lara truly begins to heal.

I found the first half rather slow and slightly difficult to remain engaged with, but that’s most likely due to Lara’s prickly personality. Truth be told, she was supposed to be prickly and I believe I was supposed to slowly grow to love her, which I did. By the second half, Lara’s icy exterior began to thaw as she opened up to the love arou
Summer Kinard
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this empowering novel, redemption comes in flawed packages. With her passion for great books and unsentimental yet compassionate acceptance of the people in her life, Lara brings us into the midst of healing from trauma without toying with our emotions. A colorful and earthy cast of friends stick with Lara as she struggles to heal her body, revise her habits, and redirect the story of her life.

This is such a great book- wisdom without overt religion, for anyone who likes a good read with a re
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
An uplifting, enjoyable read.
Lara Is 29 and lives a solitary, friendless life, working, going to the gym and eating takeout every night. Then she is diagnosed with cervical cancer and her life is changed, but in surprisingly positive ways.
This book is harrowing at times, as Lara’s background story is revealed and the reasons for her fear of people become clear. But watching her finally make friends and finally live is really rewarding and a pleasure to read.
Her relationship with Jane is a stand
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I enjoyed this heartfelt story of a young woman who, while battling cervical cancer, conquered her demons and transformed her life. At the beginning of the book the young woman, Lara, has little self worth, is introverted, avoids relationships and is haunted by demons of her abusive childhood. She feels defeated by her cancer and believes she got cancer because she was being punished for something. However, as she struggles with the day to day knowledge that she has cancer and begins treatment, ...more
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a very beautifully written novel about healing in many senses of the word. I cared about Lara, and found that the story depicts a journey toward rediscovering self-worth through unexpected friends that emerge just at the moment you believe you’re alone. I loved Hein’s vivid imagery and rich metaphors, and the literary allusions were a delightful part of this read. The suspenseful subplot also makes this an engaging and absorbing read from start to finish. I definitely recommend this nove ...more
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For the first few chapters I wasn't sure a book with cancer and abuse would be my first choice summer read. But Lara's evolution from a victim to a strong woman, Caring about others was inspiring. Lonely and damaged, Lara pursued success at work at the expense of friends and a real life. The Eiffel Tower was a goal on an indoor bike, not real. As Lara goes through an awakening, the reader is absorbed with her story. Great read. ...more
Eileen Dandashi
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Official book blurb: Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-imposed isolation until a cancer diagnosis cracks her hard exterior. Lara’s journey through cancer treatment should be the worst year of her life. Instead, it is the year that she learns how to live. She befriends Jane, another cancer patient who teaches her how to be powerful even in the face of death. Accepting help from the people around her allow ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miriam Drori
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to say I enjoyed a novel that deals with the topic of cancer, and yet I did. The main character is apparently one of the lucky ones as far as that disease goes and so, although there is at least one character in the novel who clearly won't make it, the general tone is positive.

The other issue dealt with in this novel is social anxiety. It's not named in the novel, but I read on the author's blog that the main character has social anxiety, and this is why I was keen to get hold of it (a
Elizabeth Turnbull
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books you find yourself thinking about long after you've finished reading it. I have fallen in love with this novel and its characters. The friendship between Jane and Lara is one for the ages. We all need friends like these. And thanks to Hein's genuine writing style, we have them. The subject matter of this novel had the potential to create a dark book, but Hein uses humor, snark, and little prickliness to poke holes in the darkness and flood her readers with light. This n ...more
Lisa Lewis
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The main character, Lara, is rather prickly and not terribly likeable, but over the course of the story and her development as a person, I became really attached to her. Many of the people she meets during her experience of having cancer and her whole life changing for the better are wonderful. The book has funny moments, and touching ones. Despite the cancer theme, it was not really a sad story, but a couple of times I was surprised to realize that I had tears in my ...more
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, netgalley
While it may seem odd to describe a book about cancer as "light", How to Climb the Eiffel Tower remains about as light as a book featuring a main character who is both a cancer patient and survivor of abuse can be. Despite its potentially grim premise, the story does more to highlight one young woman's awakening to her life as she deals with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, and along the way finds support and friendship. E-galley provided by NetGalley. ...more
Lisa Bentley
I chose to read How to Climb the Eiffel Tower because I am currently running a French February theme on my book review site. I can admit that I didn’t actually read the blurb of the book and that I just saw the Eiffel Tower on the cover and being the Francophile that I am I requested it straight away on NetGalley. Normally, I would scold myself for being so laissez-faire with my NetGalley book requests and not actually researching the book beforehand but How to Climb the Eiffel Tower was one of ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This book really struck a chord with me, and it's not because I have cancer. Lara gets a cancer diagnosis and reacts to the news like a "normal" person, with "normal" feelings. She does all that she can to excel at her job and she has a routine and a past - a pretty dark past. But in the year she deals with her cancer diagnosis, she learns more about herself than she ever has before. I love this book in that it really shows you that it's what you make of a situation that shows your true characte ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I love how this book covers two themes: the fear that goes into the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and the long-lasting scars left by adverse childhood events. The author seamlessly weaves the two, so not only does the reader experience a first-hand account of the protagonist's cancer journey, we also get to see her finally face her childhood demons. Up until her cancer diagnosis, Lara Blaine has walled herself off from others as a way to survive her childhood trauma, but once she becomes ill ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this down. Lara's life drew me inside; I had to find out what happened next! Her journey and her transformation from sad, lonely, abused girl to strong confident survivor was beautiful. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from Elizabeth Hein! ...more
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Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. How To Climb The Eiffel Tower follows one young woman as she navigates the world of cancer treatment with the help of her friends. Overlook and Escape Plan chronicle how a small group of women bands together to free themselves from terrible marr ...more

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