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Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting Hardcover – June 12, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Norton was in her midthirties, living in Paris with her French husband and toddler and suffering odd symptoms that French doctors dismissed. Visiting her parents in California, her lopsided breasts’ appearance caused her usually underreacting mother to insist she see a doctor. Within hours, Norton had seen the ob-gyn, two surgeons, “gotten a skin biopsy, had an ultrasound and mammogram, been scheduled for a stereotactic needle biopsy, and been wished a nice weekend.” Diagnosed with a virulent cancer and given a 40 percent chance of survival, she managed to maintain a breezy wit while surviving chemotherapy and attendant baldness, double mastectomy, radiation treatments, and the ministrations of her African American family, with its five blaring TV sets and discussion of everything except sex, money, and feelings. Such observations as, about her son, “his first trip to the beach might be my last” and about her ovaries’ death from chemo provoking “not the upset where you sniffle and cry, but the ghetto-style upset where you burn down someone’s check-cashing business” crackle with heartfelt intensity and irreverence. --Whitney Scott

Review

“…a truly elegant memoir…Norton is terrific at narrating the physical slapstick of battling this disease. But She’s even better on the arrogance and pretense the cancer reveals…she’s fresh and adorable, and you hope she sticks round to produce at least another dozen surly, lovely books.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“By including touches of wit and sarcasm, Norton strikes a successful balance between light and heavy, keeping her audience consistently engaged.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“If you seek to be moved — to laughter, that is — look no further than newbie Meredith Norton’s memoir, Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting. Her victimless approach doesn’t sugarcoat the experience but rather brings to light hilarious universals (e.g., constant Lance Armstrong mentions from friends and family).”
Daily Candy

Lopsided is fantastic. I read it in one sitting, and it completely swallowed me up. For one entire day, a girl I don’t know and never met became my best friend, and I have not been able to stop thinking about her since. LOPSIDED is powerful, funny, courageous, and moving, but most of all, it is human.”
—Laurie Notaro, author of The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club

“...wise, humorous memoir...Her disarming frankness renders the book less a cancer survival guide and more a lovably unfiltered e-mail from a hilarious friend. There has not been a funnier, more honest cancer account in recent memory.”
People

“I hope to encounter this clear, incisive, highly amusing voice again. Soon.”
Orlando Sentinel

“Norton is one plucky dame, and she displays a sharp eye for the human condition...[she]calls herself a storyteller, and the tale she has crafted from a life-altering event is indeed hard to put down”
Kirkus Reviews

“[Lopsided] crackle[s] with heartfelt intensity and irreverence.”
Booklist

“Her tone may be facetious, her language colorful, and her distractions gritty (readers will gasp at the taxidermy activities of a former neighbor), but her view of cancer (funny and irreverent) and her place in the world (she found herself “waiting for a miracle. Not a miracle to save my life, but the miracle to make something of it”) will make readers stand up and cheer. Highly recommended…”
Library Journal

“Meredith Norton gives marvelous new meaning to the phrase ‘a sick sense of humor.’ And her lippy, lovable, sharp-shooting story will find your heartstrings by way of your funny bone. This isn’t Chicken Soup for the soul; it’s Tabasco. Fans of David Sedaris should fall to their knees and worship this book. LOPSIDED is, hands down, the best new memoir that I’ve read in ages.”
— Koren Zailckas, author of Smashed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (June 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670019283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670019281
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,784,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barbara Mcclure on July 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Meredith Norton's memoir is unexpectedly funny about a very serious subject. I found myself reading the novel,not wanting to put it down, eager to find out how she brings the story to an end. The comparison to Sedaris is appropriate as Meredith maintains the humor throughout yet pauses at times to allow us to understand the severity of cancer she faced. Memoirs are supposed to be self-reflections of personal experience, not self-help books that offer advice to others who may be suffering from the same disease; I disagree with the reviewer who suggests caution. Meredith brings us into her world and experiences, so we understand her confusion, frustration, anger, and humor. A great read from a woman who has a wonderful spirit and drive to survive against all odds. And she can write.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book even though I had never heard of it because a) I'm interested in memoir and b) my sister-in-law is battling cancer. I never expected to be this enthralled. I simply could not put it down. Several times I found myself sneaking away from work just to read another page or two. I was riveted.

You can't help but fall in love with Meredith, this quirky character who doesn't take herself seriously and seems like just the kind of person I'd love (or be) in real life. Her battles are real but her wit is what moved me. I laughed out loud several times. I know, how is cancer funny? But you just have to read it for yourself. Really. You have to!

Don't miss this great read!
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Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for easy consolations and wishful thinking, don't look here. Meredith Norton pulls no punches and tells simple but hard truths: as her dad puts it, "No one gets out of here alive." But this isn't a depressing book; it's a story of (temporary) survival, and it's wickedly funny. Norton has a great eye for the ridiculous and outrageous in others and in herself. Recommended to anyone who may die.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read a lot of the breast cancer literature for the woman diagnosed since I was diagnosed 8 years ago - doing fine, thanks. This is the first one I think I've seen by a woman of color. A good combo read with Cancer Vixen.
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Format: Hardcover
Move over Lance Armstrong - I predict this funny and bittersweet book about cancer will become the new go-to gift book for newly diagnosed cancer patients. This book is refreshingly BS-free, offering a clear-eyed, witty, and brutally honest portrait of lives touched by cancer.

What a life too: Norton has piles of ridiculous personal stories that spice up the tale, such as her stories about her hardboiled mom and Cosby-style dad, plus enough crazy friends to fill up a football stadium. Norton's deft avoidance of saccharine-sweet cheese keeps this book true, clearing room for her humorous meditations to strike.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a blast of fresh air for anyone who has battled cancer directly or by the side of a loved one. It is written almost completely without self-pity: frank, intensely aware, perhaps afraid inside -- but brash and full of life outside. I'm not sure how much direct application it will have for most people -- the author seems to have lived a pretty unique life -- but it certainly gives one an unexpected, helpful, and ultimately very wise perspective on life with this awful disease.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book a year or so after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was excited to see a black woman with the disease sharing her story. There aren't a lot of those voices out here. It is a good book but even though we share race and this disease, her life was still pretty different from mine. I enjoyed learning about her balancing act with the disease and her life as a wife and mother in another country. I was hoping to see more lifestyle similarities to my own. That said... it is a good memoir. And I'm grateful that she wrote it.
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Format: Hardcover
I read "Lopsided" in less than a day -- couldn't put it down. Meredith Norton is a fabulous storyteller with a wicked sense of humor. What I find most appealing about her writing is her ability to poke fun of family and friends while simultaneously treating them with great affection. The book humanizes (and "humorizes") the process of living with a devastating form of cancer, a gift to many.

The book is not for everyone. The occasionally coarse language is one reason, and another is that it's not intended to be an "inspirational" memoir, which some desire or need. (I thought of giving it to one friend with terminal cancer, and decided against it.) But to those who can handle it, you will be left wanting more in-depth versions of each salacious anecdote!

I think it's a great companion to Adam Gopnik's "Paris to the Moon" -- both offer hilarious inside looks at the French-American tete-a-tete in our modern world.
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