Cavak's Reviews > Better Off Bald: A Life in 147 Days

Better Off Bald by Andrea Wilson Woods
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really liked it

Better Off Bald is an emotional read that carries a complicated family history. Understanding Andrea and Adrienne's family and friend dynamics is something else. Once I got them down in my head, the cancer diagnosis became a heavier reality to swallow. The title gives away the end result, so the book is really more about those surreal four months.

Cancer is different for every person, so reading about Stage IV for someone so young hits hard. Andrea doesn't hold back about how strenuous the experience is for everyone involved, including the disarming physical ailments and feelings of helplessness. It's also strangely enlightening. I appreciated the candid details about wrestling with financial problems, alternative treatments, medical professionals, and insurance problems; often these bits get tucked into the back pocket due to fear of libel. The other children in the hospital and the 504 meeting sticks out to me.

At the same time, Adrienne cheering everyone up is touching and heartwarming. Her humor lessens the pain but doesn't ignore it. While Andrea spends many passages beating herself up, Adrienne's sardonic smile makes the angst bearable. Precious reminders of life do that. After reading Adrienne's LiveJournal account (remember when that was a thing?), I do think Andrea is somewhat exaggerating her little sister's courage in her writings. Considering her situation, I probably would have done that too.

Being reminded of the time period multiple times is shockingly effective, just like the LiveJournal example. Wow, Adrienne didn't live to see the first Lord of the Rings film. Would she still be into fairies after watching it or would she have gone full elf? Maybe Gollum's more up her alley. Wonder how she would have liked smartphones, if at all. Thoughts like that tears me up a little.

While there is an earlier podcast version, I don't know how it compares to the book. Judging from the titles alone, I'm guessing the podcast is like an early audiobook version? I'll check it out later to see how it's like.

Better Off Bald is a story of grief and willfulness that took time for me to absorb. I hope other people can learn from it too. Thank you for sharing Adrienne and your story, Andrea. I'm glad you're helping others now with a career that speaks to you.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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Reading Progress

October 15, 2019 – Started Reading
October 15, 2019 – Shelved
November 12, 2019 – Finished Reading

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