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When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  4,028 ratings  ·  667 reviews
The Big Sick meets Dad is Fat in this funny and heartfelt New York Times bestselling memoir from writer, director, wife, and mother, Jeannie Gaffigan, as she reflects on the life-changing impact of her battle with a pear-sized brain tumor.
In 2017, Jeannie's life came to a crashing halt when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. As the mother of 5 kids -- 6
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Grand Central Publishing
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan is a memoir of the journey of a wife and mother of five and business partner, diagnosed with a brain tumour. Jeannie Gaffigan is the spouse of comedian Jim Gaffigan. Together, as a family, they faced uncertainty, fear, surgery, a long recovery period and adapting to a new kind of life, all of it done with strength, love, a sense of humour and a positive attitude. This is an example of grace under pressure. I will remember this book for a long time an ...more
Jim Higgins
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Certainly the funniest book about surviving a brain tumor I've ever read.
Donna Hines
Sincerity, hilarity, heartfelt love, & with SuperMom charm Jeannie is someone we should all welcome in to our homes.
Prior to this Goodreads giveaway I had no idea about Jeannie and her career. However after reading this I feel like we are the best of friends.
I'm an empath. I feel emotion more than anyone else and this was chock full of nuts, soul, and compassion.
It will have you laugh, cry, and split your pants laughing....
Can you imagine a brain tumor can somehow put your whole life and future
Amy Oechsner
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a deeply personal story. I am a huge fan of Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan and I was there on Instagram when Jeannie had her brain surgery. It shocked all of us fans because we know of the two, Jeannie is the "health nut" and she is so young, and they have 5 kids. I felt a personal connection to this book because for 4 years, I have seen Jim Gaffigan perform here in Milwaukee on New Year's Eve (please come back, we miss you Jim!) and we (the audience) enjoy knowing that he is here for the hol ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you’re feeling down and need a little perspective- this would be a great read for you. This is a great reminder to appreciate the moments and people in your life. It’s also a great reminder to always laugh!
Jacob Proffitt
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an ambling, autobiographical, introspective telling of the author's medical crisis when a tumor is found in her brain. Jeannie is a decent writer and she's open and vulnerable, so I connected with it early and was engaged throughout. Most of the humor didn't really connect for me, but the heartfelt faith and introspection drew me in well-enough.

And I'm finding I don't have much extra to say about it or the experience reading it. Most of her insights are rather obvious, really. But I don'
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

I absolutely loved When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People by Jeannie Gaffigan, and if you can I highly recommend listening to it on audiobook!

Jeannie Gaffigan is definitely one badass woman, and I loved listening to her story. The book touches on everything from family to faith, and she talks about what happened from before she found out about the tumor to her recovery process. I listened to the audiobook which has a forward by Jim Gaffigan
Lee Woodruff
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Being half of a comedy-writing duo, (and married to a famous comedian) doesn’t inoculate you from the bad thing in life. But it does ensure that when you write a memoir about getting a pear-shaped brain tumor as the mother of five young children at the peak of your career, it’s going to be funny. In fact Gaffigan’s writing takes a bad thing and finds a humorous and witty way to make, well, pear-ade out of pears. I met Jeannie Gaffigan outside the skanky women’s bathroom in the basement of NYC’s ...more
Michelle Rogers
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a great book!
I have to say Jeannie's ability to take a nightmare like a pearsized tumor on her brain stem and turn it into a delightful read is pretty amazing. I laughed and cried reading this book and was inspired! As a fellow lover of a to do list and mom of 5 who wears many hats, I really related to her discussions on life and the struggle she experienced when she was out the desired of control-mode. I plan to strive to implement her encouraged to do list this next year: 1. Spend more q
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I've been squeezing in all the short books so I can make it to my reading goal for the year. That is why this one landed on my TBR list. This is a the memoir/autobiography of Jeanie Gaffigan and her battle with a brain tumor.

Overall, this was just okay for me. While I appreciated the battle, her family life, and positive attitude, this fell a little flat for me. This wasn't my kind of humor. More than a few times, instead of getting real, she went for the punch line. Maybe if we shared the same
Richard Propes
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm sitting here in my Indianapolis home about two months after amputation of my left leg above the knee. While this may sound dramatic (it is), it's simply the latest stop on my lifelong journey as a paraplegic with spina bifida who became a double below-knee amputee in my early 20's.

The amputation happened after a 10-day hospitalization due to severe dehydration, a high risk for folks with spina bifida that was coupled with severe infections.

I'm healing. Well, except my left leg. It's gone.
It was just okay. A little whiny and I didn't think the author is nearly as funny as she thinks she is, but I certainly don't disagree with her message that life is short and we need to take time to appreciate the things that really matter.
Denise Lauron
I loved this book! The author's journey through a brain tumor diagnosis and treatment is long and hard, but she tells her story with humor and realism. It was a quick read and entertained me the whole time. I would definitely recommend this book.
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Already a super Mom, coauthor and coproducer to her funny man husband Jim, Jeannie Gaffigan was so busy she barely noticed the effects a PEAR-SIZED tumor, lodged in her brain, was having on her life.

Balance off? Nah, just these silly heels I rarely wear. Can’t hear out one ear? Maybe I should get that tested. Bad headaches? Must be all these kids (5)!
On and on she ran through life until her body said, “hey you, stop! I can’t run anymore.”
She and JIM were off to the ER and an MRI where the pear
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I appreciated how this gifted writer made a potentially tragic subject heartfelt, humorous, and relatable. This memoir of a busy lady of five discovering a brain tumor was delightful. We have been fans of her husband Jim for years and now understand how close they are in both their personal and professional lives. Well done.
Carmen Liffengren
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

I am a huge Jim Gaffigan fan and I know that he and his wife Jeannie are a comedy writing team. With heart and sincerity, Jeannie recounts her year of diagnosis to recovery. She doesn't sugarcoat the experience of discovering the pear-shaped brain tumor. Some of her memoir is hard to read and her road to recovery was long and intense. She's candid about how her Catholic faith got her through the darkest moments and how the experience gave Jim a chance to grow as well. There are dark mom
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
It was a very relatable story for me since I have also had a brain tumor. I loved her humor through the whole ordeal and the realizations that she made- they were very reminiscent of my own recovery and the impact it has had on my life.

Unfortunately, I kept waiting for her to talk about how fortunate she was to have the resources available to her that helped her get expert medical treatment- not just due to her faith or divine intervention, but because of the privileges afforded to her. I know
Oct 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: can-t-finish
I enjoyed the first half of this book but I was ready to move past the sickness. I wanted to hear more about how it affected her and less about the “pear.” It was a well written book and maybe if I were in a different state of mind I would have enjoyed it more.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jeannie, wife and writing partner of comedian Jim Gaffigan, was a super mom who ran her household like a well-oiled machine. Raising 5 kids in NYC with a husband who travels for work, she had to. And then in the spring of 2017, she was diagnosed with a pear-sized brain tumor and had to learn how to be the one taken care of rather than be the caregiver.
This is quite a fun memoir considering it's about a brain tumor. Jeannie talks about her seemingly unrelated symptoms (good luck not self-diagnos
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
What a fun, uplifting book about getting a brain tumor. I'm serious! I listened to the audio version. The forward is read by her husband Jim, the pre-surgery section is read by her sister (who sounded just like her before the brain surgery) and the post-surgery section is read by Jeannie herself. I loved hearing it in her voice and delivery; it made it that much more sincere and hilarious.

This memoir is heartfelt and genuine and (bless that Gaffigan humor) downright funny. It's a glimpse into t
Lake Villa District Library
Jul 10, 2020 added it
Recommended to Lake Villa District Library by: Donna
Find this book in our catalog! ...more
Shannon Wise
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: won, memoir, read-in-2019
Jeannie Gaffigan was diagnosed with a pear-sized brain tumor removed. This book is about her diagnosis, surgery, and recovery from the tumor. She details life with her husband and five children. She was a "supermom" as I like to call them - the moms who have all their shit together, work on a rigid schedule, and seem to have the perfect life. It wasn't until she was stuck in the ICU, unable to see her children, that she realized that her "supermomness" was holding her back from enjoying her kids ...more
Ashley Strukel
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, owned
Loved this one, as expected. Jeannie is honest and vulnerable and funny. I followed Jim as the story unfolded and have heard several interviews so I knew how it all worked out but I still found the book to be a page-turning, intriguing read. I think my favorite parts were about the strengths of their marriage and how they cultivated them in each other to get through difficult times.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think the Gaffigans are great, so I was interested to hear Jeannie's story. Sadly, I almost didn't finish this. There's a lot of focus on the details of the medical journey itself (which honestly, from experience, I've come to realize nobody really wants to hear) and just when you think you'll get a heartfelt delve into something deeper, you get a joke instead. Also, I'm not one to shout "your privilege is showing!" but in this case, I couldn't get past it not being acknowledged. Medical emerg ...more
Meghan Reidy
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jeannie Gaffigan is a gem. This memoir was the perfect combo of humor and sadness. I often fears this genre because people often over share. It shows that Jeannie can capture the emotion of all the trauma and joy of the past two years and present in a way that still allows her family to have the sacred space they need to heal and move forward. Jeanne and Jim are saints in the making and my soul was deeply moved by her words.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
While it was interesting to read about her journey, many of us everyday people wouldn't have had the same experiences. Sadly if this had happened to me, I would have had three housekeepers and five babysitters as well as family at hand during recoup time. A bit much with the religion too, I am glad you have faith but eh.
Katie Florida
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm having a hard time formulating my reaction to this very personal account of a traumatic medical journey. It was funny, sarcastic and raw. She bore the ugliest parts of herself as she recounted her recovery. That takes courage. But I found the tone she took at times unsettling, and some parts of the book seemed a little disjointed. I'm really glad she's well and restored to her family!
I rarely write a description of a book as part of my review because I assume everyone can read the book description provided by the publisher. My only comment here is that the description says Jeannie couldn't eat for a month, but I think it was longer than that. She makes a quip in the book that Jesus only fasted for 40 days. Of course, she was getting nutrition by other means, but she didn't get to physically eat for a long time.

In the fall of 2019, I watched an interview with Jeannie Gaffiga
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I understand the criticisms made about Gaffigan's privilege and connections being portrayed as the power of prayer, I still really liked this book. Jeannie Gaffigan is a skilled writer and storyteller, and I loved her willingness to share her feelings, her fears, her diffiulties, and her hopes for the future throughout the book. She seems like a compassionate and sincere person, a mother who centers her family's well being, and a person fully aware of the meaning of gratitude. luck, and fa ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I’ve been a longtime fan of Jim Gaffigan but I’ve been a fan of Jeannie too.
She’s more behind the scenes but she writes for Jim a lot.
In addition to their work together, they also seem like a great couple and a happy family.
When she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I strangely felt like it happened to someone on the outer tier of my social circle. I was hurting for her, Jim and their family. They have 5 kids, he’s a touring comedian, how in the world could someone manage all that life was throw
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