Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Twelve Months by Steven Manchester

Book: Twelve Months 

Author:  Steven Manchester 

Grade:   B

Recommended To:  Those who need a new outlook and a good cry. 

**This is the first book where an author has solicited me to read their book and write a review.  (What!) Even though that is the most mega-cool thing to happen to this blog since an author followed it, this review has not been influenced by that solicitation.   I've pledged to be honest about this book. **

Apparently my dry-spell of reading horrid books has ended.  I have had several really great books in a row and Twelve Months was one of the books that made it rain.

This is the story of 50-something Don who finds out, after a diagnosis of spreading cancer, that he has 12 months to live.  He does his share of initial moping and then decides to really live.  He makes a "bucket" list of five things that he never got to do and makes the last year of his life worthwhile.

This book made me cry during the first chapter and I alternatively found myself grinning and laughing because Don got to go on so many adventures and crying over the pain he kept hidden and his wife's continued reaction to his diagnosis.

One of the highest praises I can give a book is that it felt real.  For the few days that it took me to finish this book, I was inside Don's life.  His character had extreme depth.  He was both heartbroken and overjoyed.  He was loving and occasionally snappish.  He had regret and forgiveness.  Don's character was very beautifully done. One of the parts I loved best was that Don hid a lot of the pain and fear that he had about dying from his family.  It felt so accurate that a middle aged patriarch would close parts of himself off in order to spare his family.

This book really makes you think about the choices we make because of fear, time, family etc.  One of Don's bucket list dreams was to do stand-up comedy.  He tries and fails, but realizes that it isn't about the failure or humiliation, but about trying in the first place.   This of course made me want to relive college and take an improv class.

The only real criticism I have for this novel is that it occasionally dragged a bit.  It sped up and slowed down at infrequent intervals, which was distracting.  But, this wasn't enough to drag the book any lower than a "B" grade.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a very heartfelt novel about living and dying.

Happy Reading!!

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