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Alex: The Life of a Child
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Alex: The Life of a Child

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,588 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Alexandra Deford, a precious and precocious girl, was just eight years old when she died in 1980 following a battle against the debilitating effects of cystic fibrosis, the number-one genetic killer of children. Her poignant and uplifting story touched the hearts of millions when it was first published and then made into a memorable television movie. A new introduction con ...more
Paperback, 142 pages
Published July 30th 1997 by Thomas Nelson (first published 1983)
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 ·  1,588 ratings  ·  182 reviews

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Jun 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I cried on almost every page of this book...there is heartbreak on every page. I saw the TV-movie of Alex's story in the late 1980s as a kid and it really touched me. This year when a friend of a friend died of the same disease-cystic fibrosis-I immediately thought of Alex's story and knew it was time to read the book.
Alex was born in 1971 and died in 1980, a time when there wasn't many advances in treatment for the horrible disease. It's a heartbreaking story that I wish did not exist; however,
Heidi Hertzog
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read it as a young teen and it affected me so much and I have never forgotten Alex. As a young woman I volunteered at an auction for Cystic Fibrosis for a number of years. Why, because of this book. As a woman dealing with infertility, I remember a part of the book when Frank is in line at the grocery store buying root beer for his dying daughter and wondering to himself how everyone else's life is so normal, while he's buying root beer for his daughter who is at home dying. Made me relate in ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this at ten years old. The book made me cry.
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Frank DeFord wrote this book shortly after his daughter, Alex, died in 1980 from cystic fibrosis at the age of eight.

This is as one might expect, a highly emotional read. I love Frank DeFord’s writing and this was his most popular book. I had been putting it off because it is a very sad topic but I gathered up the fortitude to read the book.

After the first few introductory chapters, the writing wanders around and it is really when Alex is old enough to write and ask grown up questions about her
Bruce McDonald
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the only book I have ever read that made me cry, sobbing, out loud. It left an indelible impression on my life. There have been many advances in treatment since Alex died gasping in her father's arms, trying to the last to reassure and comfort him. CF still takes many lives too young, and there is still no cure. ...more
Joye Austin
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most influential, meaningful books I read as a young girl. It was the first time a book ever made me cry, and I've seldom been touched so deeply by a story since. I read it many times, and it never lost its impact. I still think of Alex to this day, as an adult; especially now that I have my own children. The memory of her father's account of her life is very vivid, years later. ...more
Feb 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
The only reason I wouldn't give this five stars is because I don't know if I ever want to read it's too sad!

This is a true story about an 8-year-old who dies of cystic fibrosis. What makes the story so inspiring is how amazing little Alex was. She was brave and accepting as well as spunky and happy. It made me hope my daughter will be as unique as Alex was!

I also appreciated the writing. It's written by her father and he is frank and honest about the reality of how hard it is to live
Rebecca Causey
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an AMAZING book. I normally don't read books like these but I was given this book, along with some others, to read. I'm so glad I did because it was truly an amazing read and I loved getting to know Alex and her family. She was such a bright girl, despite her disease, and so strong from it as well. I highly recommend this book. ...more
Eva Marie
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: no one & everyone
Recommended to Eva Marie by: Gloria Leclerc
I don't know what to say about this book. I think everyone should read it. And at the same time no one should read it.
I cried so long and so hard last night that when I woke up this morning I couldn't see through my contacts. I had to throw them away- they couldn't even be cleaned. I felt like someone rubbed sandpaper on my eyeballs. I haven't sobbed as much as I did last night in the last decade and that is 100% true.
I've read dozens upon dozens upon dozens of true crime stories. Add to that
Aug 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I wish Frank Deford could know that I will show kindness to other people in memory of Alex. I wish I could thank him for telling us about her, because without this book we would not have known how wonderful she was. One person can change how we live. Alex was one of those people.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm actually surprised to see that so many people read this book as a pre-teen... at least I know that I'm not the only masochistic weirdo! haha!

Anyway, I remember stumbling across this book as it was delivered in the mailbox (for free) in one of homes that my father was having renovated and he brought it home for me to read. I was a voracious reader and would read anything that I could get my hands on...

but this book really stood out to me because it really touched my heart. I have it on my bo
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have never read a book like this one, from a parents point of view caring for a terminally ill child. While I thought I could only be crying through out this entire book, it was not like that at all. Yes the end of the book is very sad, have tissues handy but so much of the book was uplifting & inspiring .... how the author & his wife & child Alex lived 8 years of her short life. Having spent sleepless nights with a child with breathing difficulties I was able to identify with Frank & his wife ...more
This one made me cry. I think there is something to be said for writing that moves us so emotionally that it can bring us to tears. Off the top of my head I can't recall anything else that I've read that has had this reaction. Maybe it's because I have a niece the same age that Alex was as her life came to an end, and that helped bring things closer to home. I found that Alex reminded me of this niece and I got choked up as I read what she said to her parents and others. It would be hard enough ...more
Joanne G.
I read this book when it first came out, and it has stayed with me for 30+ years. When my infant daughter was ill, a doctor wondered if she wasn't suffering from CF. My heart plummeted, and I must have had a stricken look on my face, because the doctor quickly assured me that CF wasn't an immediate death sentence. I remembered all the hardships of Alex and her family, and her heartbreaking death at the age of eight. The doctor informed me that CF patients could expect to live until 20. Thankfull ...more
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Everyone knows cystic fibrosis is a horrible disease. However, reading the account of a father watching his child die - I had not realized just how truly brutal it could be to all involved, how this disease could take over the lives of all it touched.
This is an unvarnished, unflattering account of a little girl who knew at a very young age that she was going to die badly, and how she came to terms with it. I thought at first the writing style was too simplistic, until I saw how much more powerf
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to say how many times I read this book when I was growing up, or how many times I watched the subsequent TV movie. What I do know is that there are moments that are burned into my memory, as if I had lived through them myself. Upon re-reading this now as an adult, it's easy to see why Alex's story made such an impression. It's tragic and heartbreaking, but it's also told skillfully by her loving - and talented - father Frank Deford. In my eyes, "Alex: The Life of a Child" is a modern c ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't the tear jerker I was expecting. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Frank Deford wrote very honestly about his family's experience with his daughter's disease and while he expressed their anguish it somehow didn't translate into anything more than a clear-eyed chronicle of Alex's life. It's a good story and well told, and the short chapters move quickly. I have no complaints but the story just wasn't transformative for me.

I'm somewhat surprised that the everyday life of Frank Deford
Apr 20, 2017 rated it liked it
If you read this be prepared to really cry your eyes out when Alex dies. It's a tough read. Learned about cystic fibrosis which I knew next to nothing about. Like it's genetic and takes two carriers to pass it on. There's a one in four chance their baby will have it, a one in four chance he'll be free and clear and two in four chances he'll be a carrier. Sad book. ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think this is a good book for fifth graders and up.I think this is a good book for children who think there life is bad, but you know what, people have it much worse than you. So when you think your life is bad look at kids who have cystic fibrosis or cancer or mental illnesses. I think "Alex The Life of a Child" is a good title for the book, because it is about a child and the eight years of her short life. Her dad is telling the story of her eight years of her life. Alex, the main character, ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
This book is for when you need a good cry. The sportscaster author once had two children, a career a house a dog a lovely wife and everything. But the second child and only little girl was never well, not for a day was she ever healthy. She had cystic fibrosis. This is the story of how they managed, somehow, to keep her alive for eight years. And this is the story of an amazing, wise, mature, very loving person, Alexandra DeFord, who managed in eight years to somehow live a powerful life of touc ...more
May 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the first books I can remember checking out myself and reading, and I don't know what would have possessed a 12 year old to read a book like this, but it definitely changed me and stayed with me all these years. I even reread it years later. It details the short life of DeFord's daughter Alex who had Cystic Fibrosis. Very moving, and everybody I recommended it to loved it as well. I'll never forget how DeFord realizes that she was born just after the 1970 census, and died just bef ...more
I'm not going to rate this book with stars.

The first thing people need to know about this book is that it is written about a child with CF born in 1971. None of its contents are relevant in any way to the life of a person with CF now, medically speaking.

That being said, this book and this movie has paid its dues in fundraising and support for Cystic Fibrosis. It is just so emotionally jarring.

My grandma gave me this book when I was in third grade. The reason she did that is because the movie ha
Colleen Rue
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book about a beautiful child named Alex.Alex couragously fought cf for 8 years.I have an original copy of the book,as well as the updated edition,and a copy of the movie,starring Gennie James as Alex.Alex dreamed of the day a cure for cf would be found.Today much work has been done in cf research.But much more needs to be done wich is why involvment in cf fundraising is so important!I would recommend this beautiful book to anyone wanting to read about a couragous child who never let ...more
The terribly heartbreaking story of young Alex Deford, who suffered and died from cystic fibrosis. Written by her father, Alex's story is one of a crippling disease and tutus. Of painful therapy that hurt her parents just as much to impose and deliver her therapy as it was for her to take it. Of week-long hospital stays. Of root beer Alex never drank. Of dancing in the hospital halls, all the while hooked to an IV pole. And of Alex's incredible personality and strength.

"I've often thought abo
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this book. It's terribly sad but very well written - it feels like someone is just talking to you instead of reading a book. I don't know anyone with cystic fibrosis and I don't even have kids but I found this book so easy to jump into. I couldn't tell you how many times I teared up. I think it's important to try and learn about those who are different from us in any way and try to see waht their life is like. I find myself reading a lot of book about diseases, mental ill ...more
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was about 12 years old and it has stuck with me through the years. As soon as I read it I knew if I ever had a little girl that her name would be Alex. My Alex is 21 years old this year. :) This is one of those books that will break your heart and lift you up at the same time. There were times growing up when I was down or sad but couldn't just cry or let out my emotions so I would go to this book and it would work like a charm. At the same time she was such a courageous ...more
Stephen Gallup
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to see how the author would handle the difficult subject of his daughter’s cystic fibrosis, because I’ve been working on a memoir of my own about my disabled son.

I didn’t find many parallels with my family’s story, but was completely floored by Deford’s account of Alex -- her simple charm and lack of self-pity -- and all the good she inspired in the people around her. This is by far the saddest book I’ve ever read. But it’s sad in a constructive way. At the appropriate time I wa
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Frank Deford is one of my writing heroes. His book, "Alex: The Life of a Child," is the most moving memoir I have ever read, probably because my daughter Erin and I feel like Frank’s relationship with his daughter Alex mirrored our own. Alex was eight years old when she died of cystic fibrosis on January 19, 1980, seven months after Erin was born. This book, the story of Alex’s life, is so eloquent and intimate that neither Erin nor I can read it without sobbing. But that’s a good thing. Reading ...more
Kym Mccoll
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. I first read it after seeing a TV mini-series that was done based on the book in 1985 or so. I've read it dozens of times and I still cry. Mr. Deford (apparently a sports author-I'm not interested in sports and have never read any of his other work), captures his daughter's illness from so many angles: his own, each family member, friends of Alex, teachers, medical professionals, and even the illness itself. So many poignant moments and just regular living i ...more
Kristen Lee
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Alex is a wonderful, heart-wrenching true story about a young girl being raised with Cystic Fibrosis. It is truly sad and will rip your heart out and tear it to tiny shreds before sticking it in a blender and pushing the "pulse" button. Somehow though, the book really makes you take stock of your life, what is important to you and what you care about. Every so often I re-read this book, not because I'm a sadist, but because while it may be painful, its uplifting as well. It gives you a glimpse o ...more
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Frank Deford (born December 16, 1938, in Baltimore, Maryland) is a senior contributing writer for Sports Illustrated, author, and commentator.

DeFord has been writing for Sports Illustrated since the early 1960s. In addition to his Sports Illustrated duties, he is also a correspondent for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and a regular, Wednesday commentator for National Public Radio's Morning E

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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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