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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Power of Two: A Twin Triumph Over Cystic Fibrosis
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2007
As a person with cystic fibrosis, I have always shied away from CF memoirs. My attitude has been "I have CF, why do I need to read about your CF?" I can not tell you how thankful I am that I did not shy away from this extraordinary story of struggle, strength and love.
Ana and Isa are twins of Asian descent who both have cystic fibrosis. Statistically, the chances of this genetic combination is 1 in 1.8 billion. The uniqueness of these two women does not stop with their genetics.
Ana and Isa immerse the reader in the world of their mother's Japanese culture mixed with that of their German father. This alone makes the story fascinating. Add to it the bond between twins and the brother who sometimes stood on the outside looking in, and you have all the makings of a complex family drama. But the story is so much more than this reader could ever put into a few sentences.
Throughout their childhood, across the seas in Japan and Germany, on into their time studying at Stanford and into adulthood, there is another character that is a constant: cystic fibrosis. I, too, have struggled with CF but after reading this book, I feel as though my "fight" pales in comparison. Never have I been witness to such an intense will to live and to thrive. There are many authors who might try to convince a reader to believe "life is precious" or to "seize the day." For these twins, no such statements were necessary. I was inspired to live harder and better only by their example. These strong individuals rarely felt self-pity and I never felt their tales to be histrionic. I so appreciated the clean, simple and honest way they allowed this breathtaking story to unfold.
In addition to feeling humbled by these women, I also felt a little bit jealous. As the only child in my family with CF and as a person who had no friends with CF during the younger years, I could not help but to wish I had my own Ana or Isa by my side. The devotion these twins had for each other was astounding and, in all likelihood, life-saving. In times when there was no one else, they gave each other the strenuous therapy needed to clear their sickly lungs and provided the emotional support and understanding that could only come from someone who has "been there, done that."
All in all, this is a book about "A Twin Triumph over Cystic Fibrosis" but it is also so much more. Many books about CF leave the reader feeling sad and overwhelmed. I am happy to say, this book left me rejuvenated and excited about life. I am a member of this club--the cystic fibrosis club. Ana and Isa's wisdom, strength and resilience make me eternally proud to be a member to which such amazing people belong. I can not wait to read this book again and again.
This is a book for everyone, inside the club or not!

Tiffany Christensen
author, Sick Girl Speaks!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2008
I agree with what Tiffany wrote before me. I'm also an adult with CF, just hit 30. I had considered writing my own little CF memoir, but these girls did such an awesome job with their vivid depiction of their experiences, thoughts and emotions throughout their lives, they covered it all. Their journey brings you into the world of all stages of CF from everyday maintenance to near death experiences, how it's changed since the 70's, the treatments, the pain and the joy in meeting others in this special CF club. As others have said, this book covers so much more. With a German father and Japanese mother, they take you through life as biracial twins in America and Japan, their travels around the world, and the amazing support they found in family and eachother, then much much later boyfriends. Their story is brutally honest about their experiences, and they've had some tough ones. What I loved most was this honesty and ability to infuse some funny in their situations and not take themselves too seriously. It's refreshing. The narration of their mother was hilarious, even though she's their biggest supporter it seems. My only complaint is I'm jealous they went to CF camp and met Bob Flanagan, the camps were gone by the time I knew they existed.

Brilliant girls, thank you!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2008
Having known and loved Ana and Isa for at least 15 years and being a mom of one of their close friends who is an adult with CF I am so grateful to them for writing this book. The raw honesty and intimacy of sharing their lives is unusual. We live with CF in so many hidden ways. It is behind closed doors where much of the struggles occur whether being the disease processes, treatments or personal grieving. Being able to share a true picture of what it is like to deal with CF or any life threatening chronic illness is difficult at best. You know when people ask, how is it? We usually say, "fine". But the story about CF is far more complicated than, "fine". Thank you Ana and Isa for telling your story that is so readable so that I can share it with my family. Perhaps this will give them a glimpse into our lives that is so hard to share in words other than, "fine". May it be read widely and a greater understanding into the lives of those that live with these challenges be better understood.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2007
I really enjoyed this book and feel I learned lessons from both the twins. They offered a very intimate view of life with a life threatening chronic disease. As a health care worker, I sometimes don't fully appreciate how much people have to adapt their lives to deal with something 24 hours a day year after year, how much the whole family is involved, and family dynamics altered. Their honest reflections on trying to cope with our medical system also rang very true.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2008
I'm lucky enough to say I know Ana and Isa. I met Ana at the 2002 Transplant Games and Isa at the 2004 Transplant Games. While I'd always known that they had their transplants due to CF I had no idea what they had to go through (both as individuals and together) just to survive. I received my book as a birthday present (1/3--5 days before the girls birthday!) and finished in just a little over 24 hours. I was that consumed by the book. I loved how the girls didn't sugar coat what they went through growing up. As sisters, with their family, and with friends. Both women know how to appreciate life and how to live it and treasure each adventure that comes their way. I'm so proud to call them my friends and I can't wait to see them this July at the 2008 Transplant Games in Pittsburgh. GO TEAM NOR-CAL! GO TEAM FLORIDA!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2007
Ana and Isabel give an honest, powerful account of living with this horrendous disease. Already difficult family dynamics become more strained and threaten to destroy the family unit as they are influenced by the challenges of cystic fibrosis. No matter what your circumstance, this novel will make you reflect on how best to spend the rest of the life each of us has been given. It is for anyone dealing with any adversity. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2008
This book is a great story of what life is like with chronic disease. It is a must read for any family member of someone with Cystic Fibrosis, and a must read for anyone looking for inspiration. The twins tell a story that is blunt, honest, and genuine. Great book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2007
I am so lucky to know Isa and Ana for over ten years now and I know them even better after having read this book. I may be biased, but I suspect not - I couldn't put the book down. Thank you both for writing such an honest portrayal of your lives - I know that your words will uplift and inspire many, and isn't that what literature is for? Excellent, excellent book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 13, 2008
In "The Power of Two: A Twin Triumph over Cystic Fibrosis," we meet identical twins, Isabel and Anabel Stenzel, who were born with a deadly disease: cystic fibrosis (CF). As adults, the sisters underwent the only "cure" for CF -- lung transplantation -- and are now living their lives at full-speed after childhoods dominated by chest percussions and drug therapy, numerous and lengthy hospitalizations, constant medical scrutiny, and watching their friends with CF die at young ages. "The Power of Two" is a beautifully written book that will amaze you with its brutal honesty, move you to tears, and inspire you to count your blessings. The remarkable Stenzel twins have an extraordinary lesson to teach us all: never give up, live life to the fullest, and don't take the incredible gift of breath for granted. Their story will linger in your heart long after you've closed this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2008
The Power of Two is an amazing "Duet" written by twin sisters with a powerful will to live inspite of the challenges of living with a deadly genetic disease. Each takes turns "singing" the melodies of her own unique yet shared experiences. This is no sugar-coated fairy tale. It is a novel about survival even though the medical odds are stacked against you. The physical, social, psychological struggles, failures and triumphs are explicitly detailed. You will weep, you will cringe, you will exalt as they progress from climbing a few stairs with difficulty to climbing Yosemite's Half Dome!
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