“Megan’s Way” ~ A Novel of Eternal Love, Friendship, Death & Dying by Melissa Foster

Book Notes

“Megan’s Way is a fine and fascinating read that many will find hope in.” Midwest Book Review


The Megan’s Way film will be entered in the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, South By Southwest Festival (SXSW In Austin Texas), Amsterdam Film Festival, as well as New York, LA , and Miami (just to name a few). This is a “Fest-Best” type of film and expected to make a major impact on festivals world wide.

My Review:

I first want to share with my readers the personal perspective I bring to this review of “Megan’s Way.” Some 29 years ago I was widowed as a young woman with three children under the ages of 9. My precious young husband died of melanoma that had metastasized to major organs: we had several months to prepare for his death. This came after the original cancer of 11 years in the first year of our marriage. So, I’m someone well acquainted with cancer’s toll on a person and those who love them. I read this book with that intimate awareness.

Melissa Foster has given us a true-to-life rendering of the process of dying. From the earliest stages of the person’s acknowledgement of impending death, to their release of loved ones, their body and spirit; to the angst and responses of those who live with and love them, Ms Foster paints a portrait of the struggles and survivals. She understands the pain of those left behind and the awareness of those who have to do the leaving.

 Through her very beautiful and tender portrayals, we come to know Megan and her intimate friends as if they were family. We get a clear and close up understanding of Megan’s loving and tumultuous relationship with her teen aged daughter, Olivia. And, we are given unique insights into Megan’s personality, thoughts, fears and death and dying processes from her own perspective, as well as from the perspectives of her friends and daughter. Ms Foster is spot on in her every detail of this experience with death, in my experience. 

I found Melissa’s writing, however, to be somewhat stilted in her efforts to get across all the points of the process, and then the major theme of the choices we have about our own death and dying. There is something lost in the flow of a story as the book progresses when it starts to be overtaken by a series of details on these numerous processes and points of dying, rather than having it more balanced within a storyline. This, however, does not take very much from the book or enjoyment of it in total, since I think it’s worthy on many other levels.

While Megan considers her options of ceasing any other chemo or “prolonging” measures, and as she also contemplates the virtues of taking into her own hands the method and timing of her death, we are allowed to witness her conflicts. This option to choose is one that many come face-to-face with. Ms Foster gives us a balanced and open view of a woman who looks boldly into the face of death, weighs her options and takes into loving consideration the daughter she will leave behind.

The complexity of “Megan’s Way” made this novel one that I loved reading. Certainly, it rang true to me in so many ways. It also touched my heart with its attempts to bring readers into a center of meaning and choices that will be an evitability in most of our lives.

The intertwined tale of friends and surrogate family lends itself to be a realistic possibility in light of the “secrets” that people tend to hold close in relationships. While one is living, the secret is easily kept and the “family” can pretend to overlook and rationalize…but once a foundational/pivotal person is going to be removed–the structure that holds it all together is jeopardized and must be delicately “readjusted.” This is an element I’m also familiar with, personally, and one I thought Ms Foster handled elegantly.

I recommend your choosing to read “Megan’s Way” before it’s made into the movie for the Sundance Film Festival. It’s going to have a great impact! And, it’s a very enjoyable read on the order of a Jodi Picoult novel.

Strongly urge you to read more about Melissa Foster and her outreach programs, her book “Chasing Amanda,” her soon to be released book, and her social community for women called “The Women’s Nest.”

http://www.melissafoster.com/


4.5 stars from TheBookishDame

Jodi Picoult’s New Novel, “Sing Me Home” Live Video and Release!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jodi Picoult’s “Sing You Home” Live Interview!!! March 1, 2011 Release

Jodi Picoult releases her 17th novel and all we can do is wait in line to be the first ones to grab a copy!  On March 7th, at her Opening Reception in New York City, Jodi will be answering questions about “Sing You Home,” and I’ll have the live video on this blog.  So exciting for me to be a part of it.  I was thrilled to get an actual invitation to the event, itself, but travelling isn’t possible for me, so I’m left to use this method of communication instead.  I love Jodi and Simon & Schuster!!!
If you link to http://www.simonandschuster.com/ you will see some pre-publication video by Ms Picoult with regard to “Sing You Home,” and her personal connection to the story. One of her sons is gay and through him the family has been introduced to unique experiences.  The family is fiercely supportive of who this young man is.
After having read some of the book at this point, (I was given a pre-publication copy of it….so grateful!) I’ve found it in the best tradition of Jodi Picoult’s writing.  Just makes one want to stay up 24/7 reading.  She’s written this one from a perspective of her own heart, however, which gives it a certain depth of feeling that I believe we’ll find unique.  I have a feeling this book will be one her fans will rank as her best to date.
Along with her novel, Ms Picoult has collaborated with her dear friend, Ellen Wilber, to create a companion soundtrack!  How unique in the industry…or, as I quote another author friend of mine…”the brave new world of publishing” is upon us.  This beautiful recording, which Ms Wilber performs and has written the music for, and for which Jodi has written lyrics, is an accompaniment for each of the chapters of “Sing You Home.”  I’m distracted by singing when I read, so I’ve opted to listen after I’ve read a chapter.  It will be interesting to see how you feel about this, and how it’s used by readers in general.
As a sneak preview, I would like to give you the publisher’s synopsis of the novel:
In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist.  When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people–even those she loves and trusts most–don’t want that to happen.
Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood.  It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams.  And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutallly calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts:  family.”
 
 
I will be posting my full review of  “Sing You Home” in a few days.  I hope you’ll come back on the evening of March 7th, at 7PM to watch the live video with me!
*On another note~ I’ve failed to keep current on my blog reviews due to a nasty bout with a pneumonia virus.  I’m better and hoping to catch up this week!  Thanks for checking in with me.
 
 
Please leave me your comments.  I so appreciate hearing from you!  And, please check in as a “follower,” which is also so important for me.  It’s nice to know you’re out there!  Thank you for stopping by,
 
 
Your Bookish Dame,     Deborah

“Houses”~A Nostalgic and Brilliant Novel

“Houses” is about the many beautiful, enduring and literally earth-shattering epidodes that women and men experience in life. It’s how the locust-like numbers of “baby boomers”…in our gusto for living, for challenge and change, helped bring about impassioned awareness, and long standing, meaningful new ways of living in our generation…not just social unrest, mindless war, entitlements and greed. And, we continue to effect social, spiritual, political and cultural change even today.

Ms Parks processes the conflicts of being a woman during the turbulent years of the mid-to end of the 20th century. Specifically, we follow the life story of Lacey Winters, a girl whose growing up years to current “golden years” will leave a lasting impression on readers of all ages.

Readers are taken on a nostalgic trip through childhood days of playing outside with neighborhood friends, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King days, civil and women’s rights, the Viet Nam War, the bliss of first love, and the self-affirming conviction of being politically active for the first time. We come to know and love her family members, her friends both male and female and her loved ones.

We relive Lacey’s agonies, [the agonies we, ourselves, may have endured, possibly still do!] to be a “good Mom” while minding the house and budget, working for a pittance at a boring/stagnant job, and trying to take one or two classes at a time to finish a college degree so that some day it might be possible to become what she “is.” All of this only to find herself alone and most of those she loved gone by the time she “got there.”

Ultimately, Lacey does find a satisfaction from things fought for and won, and they give some consolation keeping her in the game, though the questions and conflicts of the nature of being a nurturer and/or a concerned parent still linger even to our childrens’ generation.

In chosing the title, “Houses,” Ms Parks chooses a metaphor relating to the different houses either lived in, toured, loved or hated, by Lacey to define the stages of her life, and the expressions of her “self.” This brilliant symbol leaves an indelible mark, causing us to examine ourselves in the same context. Parks is a powerful writer.

I want to leave these quotes of so many brilliant ones in this novel:

“Maybe I’m naive, but I’m hopeful that our daughters and granddaughters will find it easier. The internet and telecommunicating now offer the promise, not just of a greener way of working, but of an avenue, for both men and women, to productive and fulfilling work that doesn’t require abandoning the home, especially the children, whose needs don’t always correspond to nine to five scheduling. We have the Family Leave Act now and the notion of daycare in the workplace seems less radical. The stay-at-home dad is not such a joke.”

and:        

” This, chickadees, is (sic) the things about happiness.  You must take it where you find it.  Don’t question or second guess or wish for minor modifications.  Laugh, eat, joke.  Bounce the baby on your knee.  Don’t look forward or back.  Keep your eyes focused on the faces around you.  One of them may be missing come next year. Come next year everything may be entirely different.  Memory may have to darken your perfect day with its tincture of melancholy and the happiness will never seem so clear and real again…Should you find yourself happy, as happy as I was that Thanksgiving Day, don’t even think. Just be….Eat all you want”

This book is brilliant and readable. Ms Parks is a writer you’ll not soon forget.
While we sit on the cusp of the lst quarter of the 21st century, I know many of us will never rest on the footings we’ve gained in so many areas of our American lives…I hope and pray our children and grandchildren will continue to walk with us.

Deborah/TheBookishDame