Official Review: If I Die Before I Wake by Eli Shaw

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Official Review: If I Die Before I Wake by Eli Shaw

Post by espo »

[Following is an official review of "If I Die Before I Wake" by Eli Shaw.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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In If I Die Before I Wake, Eli Shaw recounts his experiences as a primary caregiver. The author has taken care of people that battled with various health conditions, including the terminally ill, those with disabilities, and individuals who were infected with AIDS. The title of this book was inspired by Mark, one of the author’s dearest friends. Mark had AIDS, and Eli became his primary caregiver. They shared moments of joy and stress, from wonderful travels to hospital stays. When the virus started to get the best of Mark, he would often say these words to Eli: “If I die before I wake up, make sure you get everything in order.” From that moment on, the author’s job became to get everything in order for people whose lives were overtaken by illnesses or disabilities. The memoir follows the author’s journey as a caregiver. It includes details from the author’s personal life, from his photography projects to adopting his son, as well as his reflections about a variety of topics, such as the AIDS epidemic and the social stigma attached to people who are infected with it.

What I liked the most about If I Die Before I Wake is that it is not a simple collection of experiences. The book presents caregiving as a multifaceted experience that encapsulates contrasting emotions, hurdles, and achievements. In fact, while the book primarily revolves around autobiographical content, it is also a gold mine of tips, insights, and experiences that caregivers can draw inspiration, knowledge, and strength from. I particularly appreciated that, throughout the book, Eli Shaw emphasizes the importance of radically prioritizing the dignity and independence of each patient, inviting caregivers to be conscious of their words and actions. For example, the author points out how caregivers often allow themselves the freedom to express their frustrations without thinking about how their words might affect the patients. Furthermore, the author did not hold back from writing about his own vulnerable moments, from dealing with grief to emotional and physical stress. I commend the author for emphasizing that caregivers also need to take care of themselves.

On a different note, I found some difficulties with the structure of the book. The narration is not organized in chronological order, which made the experiences described in the memoir disconnected and isolated from each other. This also resulted in some confusion concerning the order of events taking place in the author’s life, which caused me to lose track of the narration multiple times. At times, I felt as if I was reading a series of personal essays rather than a memoir. This feeling was enhanced by the presence of information that was irrelevant to the scope of the book, such as the juice recipes included in the chapter “All Juiced Up.”

I found more than ten errors in this memoir. Hence, I do not think that it was professionally edited. An error that recurred throughout the book was the incorrect capitalization of the word “caregiver.” Because words referring to other jobs were not capitalized, I found this rather odd. Due to its frequency, this particular error was quite distracting.

Because of the lack of structure and professional editing, I rate If I Die Before I Wake by Eli Shaw 2 out of 4 stars. I would have happily given the book an additional star if it had been professionally edited. While this memoir presents some problems, I still think it can be a crucial resource for caregivers. It is evident that the author places the dignity of his patients at the very core of his profession and actions, and he is eager to teach others to do the same. However, if you are not a caregiver and are not interested in memoirs, I recommend you steer away from this book.

If I Die Before I Wake
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Post by Dominik_G »

It's a pity the book contains some distracting errors because, all in all, it sounds like a sensitively written and worthy read. I think I might give it a go. Thank you for your beautifully written review!

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Post by Elvis Best »

Although this book has its issues, the idea behind it is laudable. Thank you for an honest review. Good job!
"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

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Post by HurricaneBooks »

Being a caregiver is a tough job. I've worked for many years with early childhood special education programs and can empathize with the challenge of balancing the individual's independent while providing care for their needs, and caregiver self care.
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Post by Dayodiola »

Death is the end for all, and disturbing is we don't have a clue on time of occurrence. We need a memoir of our life for the inevitable. Thanks for the fair review

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Post by Michelle Fred »

What a catchy and beautiful title! Being sick comes with certain vulnerabilities and most people don't know how to deal with them. It's very gracious of the author to uphold the preservation of his clients' dignity. I hope he takes your review to heart and makes the necessary changes. Thanks for the detailed review.

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Post by _znb_k_ »

It’s sad that this book contains some awful moments and it is disturbing that we can’t control things that is going around us but that’s how life works and its a good book
Last edited by _znb_k_ on 20 Jul 2020, 19:17, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by aaurba »

I like the message the author is giving us. That caregiving isn't simple and much more complex than what most people know. I also find the author's experiences to be interesting. I hope that this book gets a round of editing and proofreading so that the audience can enjoy reading this book.
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Post by Imperio »

Despite the issues with the book, I think the premise is still promising! Thank you for your honesty and your nicely written review.

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Post by Priyanka2304 »

It really liked the idea behind this book. Thanks for the amazing review.

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Post by JeanyJean »

I must say the title and the cover of this book are very catchy. Thank you for such a wonderful review. It was very honest and gave a perfect overview of the book.

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Post by Teele »

The author had such an interesting theme. It's a pity there were so many distractions.

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Post by Anngladys »

Thank you for your candid review.

Although at the end you do not recommend the book to those who are not care-givers, I still would think that it would be helpful to read it just for the information. Being a care-giver can sneak up on anyone unexpectedly, so I think it woudln't hurt to overlook the frustrating parts for the sake of getting that potentially life-saving information.

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Post by Marion Jepkosgei »

The review is honest and the book sounds great. I hope it will be edited to make it a stellar read.

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Post by Ellylion »

Really sorry that a book with such a promising premise has so many issues! I believe it needs another one round of editing. It touches on themes really worth exploring. Thank you for a great and insightful review!

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