4 out of 4 stars
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How many times a day do you think about your respiratory system? Once you finish your exercise routine, do you count how many deep breaths you take? Anna and her older sister, France, were born with cystic fibrosis (CF). Their every breath was a struggle and a blessing. In her book, My Every Breath, Anna Maynard, with Karen Emilson, shares her memoir about her journey through life with this life-threatening disease. Anna's primary motivation for sharing her story is to encourage other people who have cystic fibrosis to have hope and never give up fighting.
Growing up with CF meant you were always different. Anna described her daily routine in which her mother "pummeled" her back and chest for forty minutes. Several times a week, they went to the hospital to have phlegm suctioned from their lungs. She did not outgrow her disease and eventually needed a lung transplant.
I enjoyed the description of Anna's close relationship with her older sister and her mother. The stories of their activities and the dialogues made me feel like I was a part of her family. Her poignant writing invoked feelings of sadness when she described the tragedy that happened to her sister and mother. I shared the love, tenderness, and gratitude she felt for the way her mother cared for their family. I also suffered with her as she lamented what happened to her elderly mother.
A wide variety of photographs of Anna and her family members fill the pages of the book. She documented birthdays, baptisms, graduations, weddings, and funerals. She included pictures from her childhood up to her grandchildren.
I appreciated the author's openness in sharing the details of her disease. This openness also drove her to express what I most disliked about the book. The final section of the book deals with the tragedy that struck her mother. I found this section challenging to read as Anna revealed the details of the attack on her mother and the subsequent trial.
The trial revealed some stressful events that sensitive and younger readers would find offensive. The interrogation of the suspect, who was arrested in relation to their mother’s case, contains strong language.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Anna's story revealed the health, legal, and spiritual challenges she faced. It is a story that emphasized how strong family ties support us through life's grim seasons. The minimal number of errors made the reading enjoyable. Anna's story reminds the reader to be grateful for good health and to appreciate your "every breath". People who enjoy memoirs that speak to medical issues and strong families would enjoy this book. Families who have a relative who has received a transplant would identify with Anna's joy and confusion after receiving someone else's lungs. Readers who do not enjoy memoirs would struggle with this book.
My Every Breath
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