Lisa Taylor's Reviews > You Mean, Besides the Cancer? A Caregiver's Journey

You Mean, Besides the Cancer? A Caregiver's Journey by Bob Marcotte
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's review
Mar 20, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-nonfiction
Read from April 02 to 09, 2012

This is truly a unique book, and despite a few personal misgivings, I’m honored to be a part of revealing it to the public.

“You Mean, Besides the Cancer?” Is a creative non-fiction book set up as a series of blog posts written by Bob Marcotte throughout his wife’s battle with a very unique type of cancer. Whether the book is actually a compilation of posts or not is never explicitly stated, but it seems completely genuine. It is so well organized that the reader is never left confused or looking for a post they missed, and yet it reads like the very personal, private blog of a man going through (as he often calls it) hell.

The author, also a photographer, adds in powerful photographs at just the right places. Black and white images of personal mementos, scenes from daily life, hospitals, his wife, etc. accompany many of the posts and add a very poignant and personal touch. Really, the set up is just awesome; and the look and feel of a personal blog made it easy to ignore the occasional run on sentence or infraction of grammar rules. The author also uses the occasional quote or poem in just the right places. As he mentions at one point in the book, I believe Bob Marcotte truly has the heart of an artist.

That same “heart of an artist” feel, at least for me personally, helped the book in some ways and hurt it in others. Like I said – the set up was great, the concept, scheme and execution are great. But, being a person who has throughout her life been called “Machiavellian,” “mean,” and “sociopathic” (okay, the last one was an exaggeration), I tend to be uncomfortable with extremely emotional personalities, and Bob is just that.

The book does move through Carole’s story at a decent pace, but in between events there is a bit of time devoted to descriptions of the same day by day frustration and misery that Bob and his wife went through. And I’m sure it’s completely accurate, and very well placed artistically, because these cover the periods of time when Bob and his wife were forced to wait in limbo for answers. But a few times I found myself thinking “you’ve said that before, I know you’re frustrated, I know you can’t sleep,” or “It’s not really fair to comment on incompetence or unfairness in a certain profession when you have never worked it and don’t know the inside intricacies it takes to run said profession.”

And would you expect anything less? Since when does accuracy or consideration of the “big picture” have a place in something so personally emotional? It doesn’t – which is why it makes me uncomfortable. Despite that, and maybe even because of that, I’m glad I read this book. It’s good for us to move out of our comfort zone as readers, and by knowing the reasons for my discomfort I was still able to make a personal connection by reading Bob’s story, even if it wasn’t as personal to me as most other readers describe.

I will say this though; in this particular case, I am the exception and not the rule. Let’s face it, most people LIKE emotion, and will want to take both Bob and Carole into their arms and cry with them; which they will, in a way, by crying into the book. I read a study not too long ago related to music that talked about why people love songs that make them sad as much as songs that make them happy. You’d think people would avoid things that make them sad, but in fact we love things that instigate a strong emotional response, regardless of the emotion. That said, most people will LOVE this book, because unless you’re a total hardass, it will break your heart.

There are a few groups of people that I think will benefit even more than most from reading this book:

- Anyone who has dealt with cancer, or loved someone dealing with cancer. You may find a kindred spirit, or at least kind commiseration in these pages.

- Anyone who has a spouse or significant other who they love more than anything. This book may very well show you those little things you take for granted, and help you appreciate your loved one even more. You never know when something like this may hit your family.

- Anyone in the medical profession. Honestly, I think this book should be required reading in medical school. Regardless of accuracy or logic, medical students, this is how many of your patients will feel and this is what they will be going through. You should know it ahead of time.

For every copy of this book sold between APR 11-15, I'll donate 5 dollars to cancer research. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

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