Summer is here! No trip to the beach or backyard barbecue is complete without a story that makes you laugh, cry, gasp, think or dream. Here are 7 amazing books that highlight the daily triumphs and struggles that come along with an injury, chronic illness or transplant.
7. Where Is The Mango Princess? by Cathy Crimmins
Topic: Crimmins’ husband, Alan, sustains a traumatic brain injury in a speedboat accident. As Alan copes with the effects of his brain injury, Cathy must learn to care for a man she doesn’t understand anymore.
Read It If You Liked: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
Reader Review: “This book can be a difficult book to read because of the deeply emotional subject, but is a touching memoir told with a great deal of humor, and most of all… honesty.”
“But all of a sudden Al stops talking and turns to me. “I want to call Cathy.”
I laugh lightly. “Al, I’m here. You don’t have to call me. Here I am.”
“No, I want to call Cathy. The Other Cathy. The one at home.””
6. Letters To Sam by Dan Gottlieb
Topic: Gottlieb, paralyzed in a car accident, writes compassionate and insightful letters for his autistic grandson, Sam, afraid he won’t live to see Sam come of age. Gottlieb is the host of NPR’s Voices in the Family broadcast.
Read It If You Liked: Tuesdays With Morrie
Reader Review: “Letters to Sam is a touching, soul-provoking work of art which I could not put down. I read the book in one day and did not want it to end. As Dan Gottlieb [wrote] to his grandson, Sam, I could feel my own heart opening up.”
I wanted to teach him what I’ve learned about fighting against the kind of adversity that I face almost daily and fear he will face also. And I wanted to tell him how peace often happens when we simply stop fighting.
5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Topic: What’s more intimidating than going to public school for the first time? That’s easy: starting 5th grade with glaring facial deformities. With courage and perspective, Wonder’s young hero, August, takes it all in stride.
Read It If You Liked: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Reader Review: “Wonder captures the dual nature of childhood, both how cruel and how tender we can be with one another. It’s about the wounds we inflict and the scars we carry, all the things that teach us to do things differently the next time.”
Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world. –Auggie
4. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Topic: Kira, a disabled orphan, is left to fend for herself by a callous, unforgiving dystopia that has labelled her useless.
Read It If You Liked: The Giver
Reader Review: “With characteristic grace, Lowry pulls her reader into this tale of a devastated world in which judgments are harsh and the dead are left to rot in the fields. Here we find Kira, her leg twisted from birth and her heart, impossibly, nourishing hope.”
Fear was always a part of life for the people. Because of fear, they made shelter and found food and grew things. For the same reason, weapons were stored, waiting. There was fear of cold, of sickness and hunger. There was fear of beasts.
3. Change Of Heart by Jodi Picoult
Topic: Shay is sentenced to death for a double murder. One of his victims has a sister who is now in desperate need of a lifesaving heart transplant. Is it ever too late to seek redemption?
Read It If You Liked: My Sister’s Keeper
Reader Review: “Her writing pulls you in until you cannot let go until the end. This book about life and death cuts so close that it keeps you wanting more.”
There’s always going to be bad stuff out there. But here’s the amazing thing — light trumps darkness, every time. You stick a candle into the dark, but you can’t stick the dark into the light.
2. Pulse by Edna Buchanan
Topic: Pulitzer Prize winner Buchanan brings us this gripping page-turner about Frank, a businessman who received the transplanted heart of a man who committed suicide. Guilty and conflicted, Frank investigates his donor’s life and stumbles upon a gristly conspiracy.
Read It If You Liked: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Reader Review: “The writer’s imagination is a breath of fresh air, and I found myself involved with the characters – feel sorry for them, hate them, question them, and try to imagine myself in their shoes.”
Frank Douglas has everything to live for. But someone else had to die first.
1. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Topic: At 44, French Elle’s editor-in-chief, Bauby, was blindsided by a rare stroke. When he awoke from a 20-day coma, Bauby was “locked in:” his entire body was paralyzed aside from his left eye. By blinking his way through the alphabet, Bauby dictated this vivid and moving memoir one letter at a time.
Read It If You Liked: The Glass Castle
Reader Review: “At times, I had to suck in my breath and set the book down to pause, it was so profoundly heartbreaking. He shares with us his deepest, raw thoughts about his daily life, his former lifestyle, his children, the blessings he misses and the pleasures he now looks forward to, as well as the torment he cannot control.”
Once, I was a master at recycling leftovers. Now I cultivate the art of simmering memories.