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Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope Paperback – January 20, 2009
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“Career journalist Cohen doesn’t flinch from probing for truth about relationships, money, fear, and death….One only hopes that, with their group presentation to a class of Harvard medical students, these five taught young medicos as much as they could teach Cohen and, through him, us.” (Booklist)
“The strength of these profiles derives from Cohen’s focus on chronic illnesses that, as he notes, are not “sexy” and generally “do not resolve themselves”....these are stories dense with quotidian details.” (Washington Post)
“This unusual book gives a voice to the voiceless--the chronically disabled who, in our health-conscious society, are defined by their disease....In this advocacy book, written like a personal journal, Cohen tells their stories....Strong at the Broken Places ends on a note of hope.” (Providence Journal)
About the Author
Richard M. Cohen's distinguished career in journalism earned him numerous awards, including three Emmys and a George Foster Peabody Award. He lives outside New York City with his wife, Meredith Vieira, and their three children.
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Top Customer Reviews
And that's what makes this book a difficult read. It's too relevant. As Cohen says, "welcome to your future."
Cohen, himself one of the chronically ill (MS and cancer survivor), profiles five people who cope with chronic illnesses. Two are kids, three are middle aged adults. The illnesses are ALS, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, MS, Crohn's Disease, and bi-polar disease. Through extensive interviews with these people, as well as his own personal experience, Cohen explores the entirely new world we're thrown into when chronic illness strikes us. It's a world none of us are prepared for, and we have to grope our way toward answers to the new set of questions that confront us. How to deal with the ensuing anger? the panic? the loss of control? How to realistically acknowledge one's condition without allowing it to absorb one's whole being? How to deny in a fruitful way? How to cope with the healthy world, whose members are indifferent, terrified by, or clueless when it comes to chronic illness?
Doubtlessly each reader will be especially moved, because of his or her personal circumstances, by one of the five chronically ill folks profiled by Cohen. Denise, the ALS sufferer, particularly speaks to me.Read more ›
For one, Cohen made a few strange choices in his selection of patients to convey his message, considering the extensive nationwide search he'd done to find them. An example is ALS sufferer Denise: Cohen portrayed her as angry with her condition (who wouldn't be?) and determined to live her life in as independent a fashion as possible, to the point where she arguably would prefer death over dependence on others. However, glimpses into Denise's past show her to already have been a bitter person before the disease, divorced and angry, and already alienated from her family (to whom she seems to prefer her cats). The rage and helplessness of an ALS sufferer would have been more acutely conveyed had the individual been happier prior to affliction.
Another curious choice was Larry, who had bipolar disorder. A huge theme of Larry's section of the book, underscored by both Cohen's musings and Larry's own quotes, was the public's misconception of mental illness, and the unfair stigmatization of disorders of the mind. Particularly offensive to the men was the act of committing someone against his will to treatment for a mental condition- something with no parallel in non-mental disorders.Read more ›
About: Cohen gets the stories of five people with chronic illnesses: Denise with ALS, Buzz with cancer, Ben with muscular dystrophy, Sarah with Crohn's disease and Larry with bipolar disorder.
Pros: The 5 people's stories are varied and moving.
Cons: Cohen does not let his subjects just tell their stories, which would have lead to a much better book as the five people profiled are very interesting, instead Cohen just seems to get in their way. A choice quote: "I'd rather hear this kid chew than listen to him talk about dying." While interviewing, He seems to try to get his subjects to say what he wants to hear and inserts far too much of his own struggle with MS and cancer as many statements that with "When I..." instead of focusing on the person he's supposed to be profiling. His analysis of the five adds very little and includes such groundbreaking lines as "Cancer is no fun. Neither are diseases of the bowel."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read for anyone with a chronic disease. Always need to know there's someone else like yourself.Published 3 months ago by Marilyn B. Monson
One of the best books I've read. The copy I purchased was for a friend she said "the book has shown her how a person feels inside".Published 13 months ago by Yvonne Mitchell
For anyone who has had major medical issues or chronic pain issues, this book is a must read.Published on July 21, 2014 by Victoria E Glover
I loved the way Robert painted a picture of each person in the book and their individual struggles as well as the commonalities. Read morePublished on April 21, 2014 by Jill Friedman