Title: Praying for a Miracle When It’s Hopeless
Author: Isabella Milan
Genre: Non-fiction / Memoir / Self-Help
This beautifully systematic book shares the author’s own struggles in life and health as she dealt with her ending marriage right after she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. The author then offers support and positive advice to those facing a similar diagnosis, examining the disease itself and the tactics she used to survive.
The first part of the book explores the author’s story, from her idyllic romance to her relational struggles with her husband and husband’s family. Her “blind love” is documented in such rosy colors that some readers may wonder when the story of her struggles will finally start, but it serves to illustrate just how “perfect” everything in her life had been going before her diagnosis.
The clarity and detail of her early marriage further creates contrast with the last half of the book, where she encourages others diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer to hold onto hope. Knowing what she faced and lost in her marriage makes it clear she wasn’t approaching her situation with “everything going great otherwise,” to where her ability to stay strong and positive despite the devastation in her life is all the more remarkable.
The second half of the book is illustrated with diagrams and details about Stage IV breast cancer and a thorough discussion of survival techniques, from exercise, yoga, and scriptures from the Bible she found encouraging to cognitive behavioral therapy she’s used with her clients. The format makes the book more approachable, as readers can jump to the part they need most without having to hunt through the entire book, and the graphics add a touch of whimsy.
The narrative tone feels gentle, encouraging, and very honest, and while details about her divorce proceedings are somewhat minimized in favor of focusing on establishing her situation and then moving on, the book carries a very personal feel. The book is Christian without being particularly “preachy,” especially since most of the author’s Christian beliefs are found in one section in the book rather than thorough the entire work.
The book would benefit from additional editing polishing, though, as there are places where awkward sentences or grammar errors make it harder to understand the message. Similarly, the work’s focus is very specific, tailor-written to help breast-cancer patients rather than for the broader memoir market itself, but as such, it does an excellent job staying on track and fulfilling the author’s goals.
Those who know someone who has been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer or who are facing that diagnosis themselves will benefit from this book, which provides a balanced outlook on their future, the challenges they may face, the emotions they may be feeling, and what their reaction can do for them in terms of surviving. Heart-felt and determinedly optimistic while being completely honest, the author offers hope and strength without denying the serious nature of her situation or that of her readers. This book is a perfect companion for those facing Stage IV breast cancer.
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