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Penelope Ayers: A Memoir Paperback – September 25, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Amy Julia Becker lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and son. She is a full-time mother, part-time writer, and part-time student at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris (September 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143636311X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1436363112
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,770,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Julia Becker is the author of Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters most (Zondervan, 2014), A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany, 2011), named one of the Top Ten Religion Books of the Year by Publisher's Weekly, and Penelope Ayers: A Memoir (2008).

A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Becker blogs regularly for Christianity Today at Thin Places (http://www.christianitytoday.com/amyjuliabecker/). Her essays about faith, family, and disability have appeared on the Motherlode blog of The New York Times, USA Today, ABCNews.com, Theatlantic.com, The Christian Century, Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, and Parents.com. Amy Julia lives with her husband Peter and three children, Penny, William, and Marilee in western CT. Find out more at www.amyjuliabecker.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Claire on July 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I know members of this family and I was told by country-clubbers that this was a "must read" and words like...scathing and tell-all were used. I read it not for than reason, but to get to know Penny.
I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. This is a story that could be written about hundreds of families who deal with life and death. What a beautiful rememberance. Every family has members who can be kind, mean, thoughtful and hauty. In the end, something natural - like death- can bring all of them together and the trappings of life become so unimportant. There are many trappings within this family, but instead of coming away with some deep dark inside family secrets.....I finished the book, in tears with a much greater opinion of all of them. Seeing how they all went through the death of Penny, is has become so easy for me to see that they are just people, like the rest of us. I did not know Penny, but I know many "Penny's". Amy Julie told a wonderful story of Penny's life and death. Kudos. The family should be proud of how Penny will be remembered both in life and death. I will share this with family members over the years and hope they can better understand the process and the beauty of dying. Great Book!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wannabe Writer on November 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Penelope Ayers is a wonderfully written tale of the coming of age of a family as they battle cancer. Amy Julia makes you feel as if you are in pre-Katrina New Orleans with her and by her side as she helps Penelope battle a horrible disease. I finished the book the weekend before a huge presentation at work and I found it gave me a sense of strength as I thought about Penelope and her fearlessness just before I addressed the group. I could not put it down towards the end (my ten month old ended up with diaper rash I was so distracted by it). This book gives you perspective on what really matters in life and helps you appreciate all of your family's idiosyncrocies. This is a MUST READ!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Clarke on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I thought it might be a drag and a downer to read a story about someone dying, but nothing could be farther from the truth. First of all, I found myself looking forward to times when I could read it because Penny's story gave me a certain lift or sense of general hopefulness that I can't quite explain. The word that best sums it up is beauty... I felt like I was reading about something truly beautiful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Barnes on January 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
A wonderful book for both those anticipating the death of a loved one or even as preparation for our own departing of this world. Beautifully and honestly written by Amy Julia Becker the narrative confronts head on both the struggles of the situation and a personal Christian faith when it is put to the test. The book is also an intriguing insight into society life in New Orleans. A "must" to read for both Christians and those seeking a better understanding of death through the eyes of a believer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jean Bickhart on May 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
I did not know what to expect of a memoir about a person I did not know and of whom I had not heard - but it was simply amazing. A story of familial love and all its twists and turns, of moving beyond difficult history, of rising to the occasion to help one in need. It's a page turner and well worth the time to read. Penelope Ayers makes you want to meet Penny and her family and friends, and walk the streets of New Orleans!
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Format: Paperback
An account of the final year the author and her husband (and a colorful cast of extended family and friends) shared with, and cared for, and loved her mother in law, Penelope Ayers. In that year, Penelope's body was steadily overcome by an aggressive and unstoppable cancer, while her spirit - and the lives of so many she touched - were impossibly overcome by all kinds of healing. It is a harsh, but beautiful journey. And despite its few silver linings, this is no Hallmark take on dying and death.Instead, it is clear, it is honest, it is warts-and-all. Becker is utterly transparent about the experience - about her questions, and anger, and confusion, and the many inglorious tedious moments, and the surprising bursts of laughter, and unmissable moments of transcending grace - all mixed with the same pettiness-es and clashings that are always part of family life and somehow don't change no matter how much we all supposedly grow up, or what the circumstances.

My wife and I are lucky enough all our parents are still with us and with their health. But this is such a powerful glimpse, an inspiring, and affirming model of what it looks like to truly honor and love a parent through that final transition. It offers no canned advice or cliche, no list of to-dos, or corny five or six or seven keys to masterful care, or memorable acronyms of the must-dos of managing end of life logistics. Just story. And a powerful one at that. I recommend it highly.
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