Here’s a reposted review from Epinions.com. It’s short, which tells me I probably wrote it for their annual “lean n’ mean” challenges. We were supposed to write reviews of less than 500 words to be entered in the monthly sweepstakes. I think I won a couple of those. Anyway, this post was written February 6, 2013 and appears here as/is.
Catherine Graves feared marital infidelity when she noticed a change in her husband, John. The two had been running a business together. Catherine had always been the practical one, while John was more whimsical and easygoing. But then his behavior began to change and Catherine was sure he was cheating on her. Then she wondered if he was dealing with a serious bout of depression. They saw a therapist, who thought maybe John needed time in a rehab facility to find out what was wrong. The couple went to Sierra Tuscon, an inpatient counseling center, where a staffer brought up the possibility that John Graves’ problem was neurological, rather than psychological. When John experienced seizures and was taken to a hospital, his brain tumor was finally discovered.
The doctor who discovered the tumor told Catherine that it was cancerous and putting pressure on his brain. She told Catherine that while John could have treatments that might extend his life, his condition was terminal. John Graves had what is known as Glioblastoma multiforme, a nasty and thankfully rare brain tumor that kills quickly.
In her 2011 book, Checking Out: An In-Depth Book At Losing Your Mind, Catherine Graves explains what it was like to suddenly lose her beloved husband to a personality altering sickness and death. Then, once John died, Catherine began to lose her mind with depression. The aftermath of brain cancer nearly destroyed the author, her children, and John’s children.
I was alerted to Checking Out when I read an online review of it on CNN last year. It took awhile to get around to reading it, and once I did get to it, reading the book didn’t take much time. It’s a short memoir, but packed with raw emotion and eloquence. Graves includes touching revelations from her children, Alex and Caroline, products of another relationship who thought of John Graves as their dad and were devastated to lose him.
As poignant as I think Checking Out is, I thought it was a bit short and could have used more substance. The paperback version is priced at $16.95 and $9.99 on Kindle, which is pretty steep for a book that only takes a few hours to read. On the other hand, this book is a beautifully written tribute from a woman who obviously loved her husband and whose tragic loss almost destroyed her. Her recovery is triumphant and I was particularly moved by the thoughtful passages her children contributed.
Checking Out will move many readers as it did me. I certainly recommend it to those who can bear to read about such a depressing subject as losing one’s beloved spouse. While I wish this book had been a little more substantive, I admit that it’s beautifully written. I think it rates five stars and a box of tissues.
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