The Bottom Line
- Gives insight into different chronic illnesses and methods of coping
- People of different ages, sexes, backgrounds emphasizes the diversity of those impacted by illness
- Discussion of both physical and psychological ramifications of chronic illnesses
- “Reflections” sections at the end of each chapter seem slightly disjointed
- Occasionally repetitive
- A chronicle of the lives of five people with different chronic illnesses
- An account of the meeting of the people in the book and their presentation to medical students at Harvard Medical School
- Short sections of insight by the author
Guide Review - Book Review
In that same spirit, Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, A Chorus of Hope is an account of five individuals living with chronic illnesses, and is “em-ceed” by Richard Cohen, who has MS. Readers get to meet Denise (ALS), Buzz (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), Sarah (Crohn’s disease), Ben (Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy) and Larry (bipolar disorder).
In my pre-diagnosis life, I studied different diseases, often wondering what it would be like to wake up each morning and say, “Oh, yeah, I still have X. Guess I’ll get up anyway.” Now, of course, I know what it is like for me. Richard Cohen has done a beautiful job in capturing what it is like for people with conditions far more debilitating than my particular case of MS. However, I saw part of myself in each of these people as they went through their days.
This book is a page-turner. I couldn’t put it down. This is weird, considering that there really isn’t much suspense built up –- no radical cures, all are still alive at publication, none of the people comes with a sound bite of “a meteoric rise to the top of their profession/sport/art, just to be stopped by this cruel blow…” Nope. These are just normal people, living normal lives, with a twist.
I really, really liked this book. I loved parts of it. It has the power to compel people to be more human -– not only those who do not have a chronic illness, but those of us who do. It makes us stronger as individuals, but also fortifies the group. My favorite lines in the book are the very first ones: “These are the faces of illness in America. Do not look away.” Even if you are one of the people looking out one of these faces, there are still worlds to learn about.