Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Cancer is a Funny Thing

A little different than my usual review. Marie de Haan is a Northwest local and a member of Just Write, a writing group on Whidbey Island. Her memoir, Cancer is a Funny Thing: A Humorous Look at the Bright Side of Cancer... And There Is One, is just that: a humorous story about how she overcame cancer.

I'll say this right now before you start skimming: this is exactly the kind of book anyone with cancer, had cancer, knows someone with cancer, or wants a good read about overcoming odds, should read/buy/gift it.

Synopsis (from the back cover):
Marie de Haan--wife, mother of three, piano teacher, songwriter, and writer--was leading an impossibly busy life. All of that changed when she was blindsided by a diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer.

She got even busier.

From chemotherapy and surgery to battles with the insurance company, tussles with her naturopath over the consumption of sugar to internal debate over whether or not to endure radiation, Cancer is a Funny Thing details how Marie handled these issues: with humor and grace. And Haagen-Dazs chocolate-mint ice cream.

First Sentence: "As I sat on the piano bench, teaching little Anna how to run up and down the B major scale with her nimble fingers, I resisted the urge to grab my right boob and yell, "Ow, ow, ow!" at the top of my lungs." Now, is that a way to start a book or what? And her humor persists throughout the entire novel, just as the title promises.

Brownie Points: You don't need to have had cancer to appreciate this book. The humor makes it accessible to everyone.

Ending: Fantastic. A beautiful ending. Pretty much as you'd expect. Heart warming. Inspirational, without losing the humor of the book or getting too Lifetime.

Recommendation: As I said above, this is a book you should get for anyone you know with cancer, if you have cancer, etc, etc. My copy will be so well used and borrowed, I'll be surprised if it doesn't fall apart before long.

Would I represent it? Perhaps. It depends on platform. Marie has a good platform--not huge, but good-- but there is no telling if an editor would have scooped it up for the writing alone. Marie went the self publishing route because she wanted to see her book in print sooner rather than later. In things like this, I'm definitely looking for humor. I'm not a big crier, and tend to sway towards humor instead.

Happy reading!


Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Vickie. That first line made me laugh, and I think the cover is pretty professional-looking for a self-published book.

Karen Baldwin said...

I enjoyed your review of Marie de Haan's book. THE CHA CHA FACTOR is about a woman 15 years post her second bout of cancer having had chemo, radiation, mastectomy-- bored yet? Yeah, me too. Humor is what moves her story where she leaves her stinker of a husband, finds love with a man 24 years younger, and emotionally heals. That's what a sensitive man can do (and good sex). She also had a plastic surgeon Hollywood would kill for. For the first time ever, she faces the world a complete woman and refuses to let cancer be the main event in her life.

Lo said...

I just found this blog and love the format! So helpful to writers and readers alike (even better for those of us who are both!) to know what you liked, didn't like, and whether you would represent this work.


Lauren Billings

Heather said...

This one hits a little close to home for me so I'm not sure I could read it. But Marie sounds fabulous and inspiring so I think I'll give it a try. Thank you for the review!

Marie de Haan said...


Thanks for the great review. Nice to see you at the writer's conference.