Many people rely on faith to get through serious illness or injury, their own or that of someone they love. Books on the topic—most of them memoirs—are perennial in the religion category, and this spring/summer publishing season is no exception.
In The Broken and the Whole: Discovering Joy after Heartbreak (Scribner, Mar.), Charles S. Sherman, a rabbi in Syracuse, N.Y., tells the story of his son, Eyal, who is four years old in 1985 when it is discovered he has a lesion on his brain. After risky surgery, Eyal suffers a brain-stem stroke and spends two years in and out of hospitals. Miraculously, Eyal’s mind is intact, but he can no longer talk, walk, feed himself, or breathe on his own. Sherman and his wife Leah bring Eyal home, where despite all odds he attends school, is bar mitzvahed, and graduates from college. Sherman’s touchstone throughout is Jewish theology, which grounds him through the family’s ordeal.
In Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way (Nelson Books, May), Laura Sobiech writes about her son Zach’s struggle with osteosarcoma, which takes his life when he is just 17. Her “small prayer” is that Zach’s death have some larger meaning and effect on the world, and it is answered when Zach, a talented musician, writes “Clouds,” a song that draws 16 million YouTube views, catches the music industry’s and the media’s attention, and inspires a documentary film. Sobiech chronicles her family’s faith and courage in facing death, and writes that Zach once said, “I want to be known as the kid who went down fighting, and didn’t really lose.”
Sidelined: Overcoming Odds through Unity, Passion, and Perseverance (Zondervan, June) is Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano’s account of being diagnosed with leukemia just three weeks into his first season with the team. With the support of his faith, his family, the team, and its fans, Pagano continued to coach from his hospital bed, watching daily practice video and emailing and texting the players and coaching staff as he underwent the sometimes grueling treatments. The team finished the season with an 11-5 record and a spot in the playoffs, and Pagano writes, “No matter how hard it tries, cancer can never contain the human spirit or diminish the power of faith.”
Other titles from Zondervan include God Is Just Not Fair (Mar.) by Jennifer Rothschild, who lost her sight at the age of 15 and struggled to reconcile her beliefs about God with her suffering; and The Gift of Love: One Woman’s Journey to Save a Life (Mar.), Amy Clipston’s story of how donating a kidney to someone else enabled her husband to receive a second kidney transplant. Clipston, author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery fiction series for Zondervan, is now an advocate for organ donation.
Vivian Mabuni, longtime staff member of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), writes of being diagnosed with breast cancer as a young mother and finding hope in her faith in Warrior in Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community, and the God Who Comforts (Discovery House, Apr.). She and her husband, Darrin, serve in Cru’s Asian-American ministry, Epic Movement. Mabuni blogs about life, love, and God and has been scoring local and national radio interviews, including a scheduled live appearance on May 8 on WTKF-FM in North Carolina.
Coming in August from B&H Publishing is Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up by Ian and Larissa Murphy. The couple married in 2010, four years after Ian Murphy suffered a catastrophic brain injury in a car accident. They were dating at the time of the accident, and Larissa writes of deciding to stand by Ian through all of the difficulties of caring for him and creating their life together. The title refers to the biblical passage Romans 8:28, about all things working together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purposes, and Larissa Murphy’s honest story, the highs and the lows, is one of love and faith overcoming adversity.