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What We Have: A Family#s Inspiring Story…

What We Have: A Family#s Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival

by Amy Boesky

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I actually read well over 50 pages of this memoir before abandoning it, uninterested in the many domestic, work-related, and pregnancy-focused details it provided. Given Amy Boesky's work as a professor of literature, I was expecting the writing to be of a much higher caliber and the observations more insightful and stimulating. I found myself leaving the text for longer and longer periods, until I was distinctly averse to reading any further. Glad I just borrowed instead of bought this one. Perhaps I didn't read far enough to get to the "inspirational" part. It's interesting how the quality of writing in some memoirs is enough to make the most banal family details compelling. That was not the case here. I certainly feel for the genetic legacy Boesky and her sisters carry; having said that, I found she didn't write well enough to make me interested in how she and her family coped with that legacy. Unless you're a woman taken over by baby-making fever (the details of which take up at least the first third of the book), I'd recommend steering clear of this one. I have to say, I was profoundly bored reading about her pregnancy (and C-section) and her first helpless Christmas at home with new baby,Sacha. I'm glad I left the book when I did. However, I see that my response is hardly characteristic of most posted here and elsewhere.
Oh...I did like the cover and rather wish the images there had been discussed.
  fountainoverflows | Oct 25, 2012 |
A beautifully written honest moving book that reads like a novel, tragic and funny and thoughtful and engrossing all at the same time. ( )
  bobbieharv | Dec 30, 2011 |
This was just plain excellent----and true to the description on t he cover, it reads exactly like a novel---except that it is real. The writing is beautiful and so is the "story"---sadly, heartbreakingly in part, beautifully told. This is written 15 years after much of what is described-----so we will await sometime in the future when there is more from this author. ( )
  nyiper | Nov 7, 2010 |
Have you ever plucked a book off your shelf to read, not really expecting more than a good story; only, you find so much more than you anticipated? I am sure we all have to some degree. Whether it be an even richer reading experience, a connection made with a character, a lesson learned, or something else entirely. It was that way for me and Amy Boesky's memoir, What We Have.

It is difficult for me to be objective about this book because it spoke to me on a personal level. And when Lisa of TLC Book Tours pitched the book to me, I think she knew it would, although perhaps not in quite the way she thought. I hadn't been so sure. I didn't think I was in the right place for a book like this, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

Ovarian cancer runs in Amy's family, cutting short the life of many of the women in her family. With their their history of cancer always looming over them, Amy and her sisters knew they didn't have much time and so tried to pack a lifetime in as soon as they could. Getting married and having children were among the priorities. The memoir covers a short span in Amy's life, but definitely a life changing one. It is full of happy moments as well as intensely sad ones.

Certain aspects of Amy Boesky's life are similar to my own--some of what she writes about I am going through right now. And I think that's part of why I connected so well with What We Have. At times it felt like I was looking into a mirror. I devoured the chapters about Amy's first pregnancy and when she brought the baby home. I could feel her and her husband's frustration at selling one house and searching for another. And I know what it's like to live with a family history of cancer (breast cancer in my case).

There were also other moments, such as my own mother's diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer; how frightening a time that was, especially given our family history, and my own fear of the disease. And then of the spreading of Amy's mother's breast cancer to her bones and the various treatments and side effects that followed--much like my friend, Melyssa's experience. She lost her battle with the disease a couple of years ago, and it was quite a blow to all of us who loved her. As a result, that was an especially difficult part of the book to get through.

Like Amy, I am a bit obsessed with time and planning. Her interest in the history of time (clocks, calendars, etc) resonated with me, although I am not sure I attach my own interest so tightly to thoughts of mortality--at least not on the surface. With the birth of Amy's children to the death of her mother, the theme was reinforced, reminding me of the cycle of life.

I was also drawn to the strong relationship between Amy, her sisters and her mother. I only met my own sister in adulthood and we live so far away from one another that we haven't really had a chance to develop much of a relationship. So while the author's experiences are different than my own, I do know the love of family and the significance that it can play in a life. Seeing my parents grow older, I feel the weight of time even more, especially at this stage in my life. As much as I struggled to get away and be my own person, there are still times when I need my parents, when I long for my mother. Just as Amy does.

Amy Boesky's memoir is written in a casual and thoughtful style which I found warm and welcoming. I easily connected with the author and found we share a lot in common both in beliefs and worries. But there were differences as well and that made the book all the more interesting. When I finished reading What We Have, I could only think how fitting the title is. It can be seen in several different ways. What We Have is about a family history of cancer and loss. But more so, as I prefer to see it, What We Have is a story about life and love and survival. ( )
  LiteraryFeline | Oct 11, 2010 |
I liked this memoir. It's well-written, sincere, playful yet serious, and the author manages to bring herself and her own struggles to light in a way that feels honest. The book gave me a lot to think about, particularly as the author struggles with her own need to think ahead and be prepared and the reality of a world that throws what it wants to at you in its own time and fashion.

Ms. Boesky obviously belongs to a clan that loves and supports each other, even when it's difficult. I particularly appreciated her honesty about her own feelings when her sister lost her baby and then had difficulty supporting Ms. Boesky in her pregnancy and delivery. I can only imagine how purely awful that must have been for everyone involved - two sisters, pregnant together and planning for their children to play together until one loses her child. Just awful.

Also illuminating was the story of the author's mother's death from cancer. I liked the mix of humor and pathos and I liked reading about everyone trying to come to terms with the inevitable. The story of the house her parents almost bought, A River Runs Through It, touched my soul and really brought her mother to life for me.

The author is at her least successful when she talks about her own work and in talking about making decisions about her own health based on her family's extensive cancer history. The book is marketed as being primarily about this aspect of Ms. Boesky's life and I think it does her a disservice because that's not, ultimately, what the book is about. As the author's specialty is the advent and evolution of timepieces and timekeeping, I would have liked for her to play more with this element within her own story. I don't think she's written the book she meant to write, and she may still write, but I liked this book and hope she writes more. ( )
  kraaivrouw | Sep 5, 2010 |
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At 32, Amy Boesky thought she had it all figured out: a wonderful new man in her life, a great job, and the (nearly) perfect home. For once, she was almost able to shake the terrible fear that had gripped her for as long as she could remember. Women in her family had always died young--from cancer--and she and her sisters had grown up in time's shadow. It colored every choice they made and was beginning to come to a head as they approached 35--the deadline their doctors prescribed for having preventive surgery. But Amy didn't want to dwell on that now. She wanted to plan for a new baby, live her life. And with the appreciation for life's smallest pleasures, she did just that. Here, Amy shares a transformative year in her family's life and invites readers to join in their joy, laughter, and grief.--From publisher description.… (more)

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