...[an] unsettling, heartening, and beautifully written memoir of a year living in the valley of encroaching death ... Part of the book's appeal lies in the fact that Bowler somehow manages to blend raw vulnerability with disarmingly funny moments - an unusual combination, to say the least ... a deeply personal account that leaves readers to draw their own inferences and find their own ways.
Ms. Bowler steers clear of prescriptions for the dying ... She finds herself 'floating' on the love and prayers of those around her in the months after her diagnosis—a fleeting feeling of God’s presence that St. Augustine called 'the sweetness.' She yearns to relish her remaining moments with her beloved husband and son in 'ordinary time,' the part of the church calendar that falls outside the joyous—and sorrow-filled—holidays. What practical advice she does offer is directed at those who encounter the dying: what to say and not say, listed in two separate appendices ... dry humor and raw, personal accounts help make thinking about our common fate bearable. We may have a few extra years yet to sip kale smoothies, run marathons and get tested for everything under the sun, but we ought not make physical health our ultimate hope.
Only in the steadiest of hands could the chronicle of a young mother’s stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis and its harrowing aftermath find you chuckling one sentence and wiping away tears the next. It’s with good reason that Kate Bowler’s Everything Happens for a Reason has grabbed national attention ... Bowler wields one sharp pen, one that flows seamlessly through comic terrain, pausing for laugh-out-loud one-liners, as it probes death and dying young with aching poignancy. Her fluency in both moods and the effortlessness of her reach make this a page-turner of lasting force.
Throughout, the author delivers raw emotion, realistic description, and candid assessments, and she weaves in references to the faith system she has studied and, indeed, of which she has become a community member ... Bowler’s reflections will speak to those who have suffered similar illnesses and existential crises, and secondary themes abound: the inhumane and often emotionless face of modern health care, the capacity of family and close friends to give of themselves through love and generosity, the well-meaning but foolish things that people say to those who are living with serious health issues, and more. An inspiring story of finding faith—in God, in family, and in oneself—while walking close to the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
With grace, wisdom, and humor, Bowler, a divinity professor at Duke University, tells of her cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment in a way that pierces platitudes to showcase her resilience in the face of impending death ... Bowler’s lovely prose and sharp wit capture her struggle to find continued joy after her diagnosis. This poignant look at the unpredictable promises of faith will amaze readers.