Title: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved
Author: Kate Bowler
Publish Date: February 6, 2018
# of Pages: 278
Buy it*: Amazon
(From Goodreads) A divinity professor and young mother with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis explores the pain and joy of living without certainty.
Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.
As she navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the reader deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her laser-sharp reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death. She wonders why suffering makes her feel like a loser and explores the burden of positivity. Trying to relish the time she still has with her son and husband, she realizes she must change her habit of skipping to the end and planning the next move. A historian of the “American prosperity gospel”–the creed of the mega-churches that promises believers a cure for tragedy, if they just want it badly enough–Bowler finds that, in the wake of her diagnosis, she craves these same “outrageous certainties.” She wants to know why it’s so hard to surrender control over that which you have no control. She contends with the terrifying fact that, even for her husband and child, she is not the lynchpin of existence, and that even without her, life will go on.
On the page, Kate Bowler is warm, witty, and ruthless, and, like Paul Kalanithi, one of the talented, courageous few who can articulate the grief she feels as she contemplates her own mortality.
Rating (1-10, 10 is exceptional)
Quality of Writing – 8
Pace – 7
Enjoyability – 8
Insightfulness – 8
Ease of Reading – 8
Overall Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler is a startling memoir about courage, hope, and one woman’s reaction to receiving the news that she has stage IV colon cancer.
First off, this book was emotionally hard to read! Kate is in her 30s and has a husband and child. I’m also in my 30s and am happily married with two kids. It’s hard to imagine being told your life could be over because of a cancer diagnosis. Honestly, I can’t even imagine it–it’s the thing of nightmares. I can’t fathom not being there to watch my kids grow up–I don’t want to miss all of their firsts and big moments. Guess what? Neither does Kate.
This memoir was well-written and hard to put down. Kate leads an interesting life. She grew up in the Prosperity gospel and teaches as a divinity professor. Yet when her body is wracked with cancer and well-wishers make comments like “everything happens for a reason” and “God has a plan,” she struggles. For what reason does she has cancer, and what exactly is God’s plan? She has a hard time coming to terms with what her faith says about death and dying versus her new reality.
I appreciated the book’s raw sincerity. Kate is honest, transparent, and even a bit snarky and sarcastic at times. She’s very real, and reading this almost felt as though you were having a chat with her over a cup of coffee.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was poignant, insightful, and also inspirational. Kate is a fighter, and she’s not willing to back down from the fight until all options have been explored. If I were to face similar news, I can only hope I would be just as commanding in my decision to battle onward.
Should you read this book? If you appreciate memoirs, this was a great book to read. If reading about cancer makes you anxious, it’s best to steer clear.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Do you enjoy reading memoirs? What types of memoirs do you like to read?
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