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  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Review: Everything Happens For a Reason - Kate Bowler

Genre: Non-fiction/Biography, Cancer memoirs Published: Random House, February 2018 No Star-rating given

“God, I am walking to the edge of a cliff. Build me a bridge. I need to get to the other side.”

Oh man... I don't know how to rate this just yet.

Everything Happens for a Reason is Kate Bowlers memoirs of her experiences after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. As a divinity professor, she has a difficult time integrating this personal tragedy into the narrative of her life. How can a benevolent God exist, in the face of all the injustice and suffering in the world? This book describes, in a very honest way, her search for the answer to that question, as well as her experiences with doctors, relatives and her own thoughts whilst on her sickbed.

Having been on the emotional rollercoaster of this disease myself more than once (myself as well as close familymembers), I know the absolute chaos that it entails. The cycle of “DABDA” is a myth, and the reality looks more like a spiders web: circling and crisscrossing from one stage to the other without any rhyme of reason. Funnily enough, most cancer memoirs I’ve read do carry a kind of “dominant” emotional stage over them (likely the dominant emotional state the author was in at the time of writing). For this books, that emotion seemed to be anger. There’s a lot of anger in here: anger at God, anger at medical professionals, anger at her own faith and even anger at relatives who say dumb things… And I get it… All of what Kate Bowler says is true and honest. All of what she says has probably at some point been felt by someone going through a similar situation. There is also a lot of backtracking, however, where it seems like she is going to make a conclusive (sometimes controversial) statement, but doesn’t quite go through with it in the end. To me, this book feels like a women who, herself, is still trying to make sense of everything along the way. I know that journey, as most of us do, and honestly at this point in life I couldn’t write anything other than that. The result, however, is the aforementioned backtracking and the lack of a final take-home-message, that will bother some readers.

It is an honest and heartfelt biography by a brave woman that will resonate with me for a while to come. Is it the most complete, rounded and well written work in its genre, though…? For me, no. It really depends on what you are looking for, and (in case you are going through/went through something similar) the state of mind you’re in. I’m happy I read it, although I will refrain from putting a star-rating on it for now.

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