RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE by Laura Jensen Walker
From the back cover:
"You think you're self-conscious about YOUR lack of cleavage?!"
You wouldn't think the words "breast cancer" and "hilarity" belonged in the same book, much less the same sentence, but chick lit author and breast cancer survivor Laura Jensen Walker knows how to address painful topics with a wink and a smile.
Reconstructing Natalie is the story of a woman whose breast cancer is the catalyst for some serious changes—not the least of which is her cup size! Holding tight to her old friends while reaching out to new ones, Natalie must redefine herself and her faith on new terms.
Excerpt of chapter one on Amazon.
It is not a good idea to read this book while suffering allergies, because hooting and snorting in laughter through a runny nose is quite difficult. Then crying tears only adds to the fluids leaking out of my face. But I can honestly say it was entirely worth it.
This is a powerful book. I totally understand why this was chosen as the Women of Faith Novel of the Year. The humor lifts it above the pain and suffering of cancer patients to the hope of survival, the joy of living, and the victory of a new life.
This book has given me insight into breast cancer patients that I’ve never experienced in just a non-fiction book. I was deep in Natalie’s head, fighting with her to not be overwhelmed by depression and bitterness. Her smart mouth and quirky outlook on life is sharp and brilliant, while her moments of sadness are poignant and strong. The small moments of human drama spoke volumes about the kinds of things she faced.
Natalie’s friends and family are supportive without being cheesy or goody-goody. It’s not just about Natalie and her cancer—it’s also about how it affects the people around her, both the ones close to her and her acquaintances.
At times, Natalie’s banter with her girlfriends get a little corny, but their unflagging encouragement shows how much Natalie needs them in order to get through her ordeal. As a reader, I’m given a glimpse into both stalwart friends and also unsupportive friends, and the effect on a struggling patient.
The subplots involving Natalie’s fellow support group friends are vibrant and touching. They truly complete Natalie’s story, by adding social nuances and different threads of emotions. The storylines are all tied up at the end, but rather than seeming cheesy or over-the-top, it’s immensely satisfying because as a reader, I’ve suffered with each of these women through the course of the book, and darn it, they deserve their happy endings!
The most powerful scene is the gallery show, and the artwork pieces on display. It runs the gamut of feelings in both a patient and the people around her, from pain to victory.
The energetic humor makes this novel so rich and bright. It focuses on the gift of life, the joy of God’s Spirit, His shining love. It doesn’t paint a rose-colored world—pain and betrayal is there in all its ugliness—but it shows people rising above with the strength of Christ, the brilliance of His love.
I don’t know if a teen would catch all the emotional nuances, but it’s an eye-opening look into a cancer patient. Young and older women alike, from all walks of life, will be truly blessed by this book. Great job, Laura!