What a tiny, beautiful gem of a book. While I have eagerly devoured all of Hoffman's fiction, I was not aware that she had written a non-fiction book or that she had survived a life-threatening illness. Survival Lessons details Hoffman's journey through cancer in the form of life advice. Eighty-three pages long, all the short chapters have the word "choose" in their titles. Highly recommend.
This is a book with highly divergent reviews. Some find it uplifting, delightful, beautifully written, and so on. Others find it trite and written from a position of privilege. I would say it is all those things and more, both good and bad.
It was written as a survivor, 15 years after Hoffman was diagnosed breast cancer, as you read about in the preface.
It is a small book that can be quickly read, which is what I did. In that manner, it very easily seems trite. But if you truly need this book—which, in effect, is trying to teach you how not only to be a survivor but to thrive doing so—then you ought read it slow. Read a section at a time. Ponder what your own answers to the topic might be. Don’t just embrace hers. Not everyone needs a puppy. Then act on them. In that way, the book would become much much more and could, in fact, be life changing. But only as a catalyst; one must still choose and act. That was always the answer.
Choose Your Heroes
Choose to Enjoy Yourself
Choose Your Friends
Choose Whose Advice to Take
Choose Your Relatives
Choose How to Spend Your Time
Choose to Plan for the Future
Choose to Love Who You Are
Choose to Accept Sorrow
Choose to Dream
Choose Something New
Choose to Give In to Yourself
Choose to Make Things Beautiful
Choose to Tell Your Own Story
Choose to Forgive
Choose to Claim Your Past
Choose to Be Yourself
Choose to Share
Choose the Evidence
Each section is between two and seven pages long, and the book includes a brownie recipe and instructions for knitting a hat.
One main comment regarding the book is that you do not need to be fighting cancer or trying to survive a trauma or whatever your situation may be. These points are all valid for every single person. Your character will come through by what you choose and, more importantly, those choices you actually act on.
Recommended if you need it. But know that simply reading it will be pointless, as quick as that may be. You must invest thought and action. Otherwise it is simply tripe.
A good time of the year to read this. It's a short but touching reminder of how to find the silver lining in the cloud of life. We all need a few survival lessons from time to time.
Trite, but true advice on how to survive life’s crises.
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