Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Review: My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein

Are you an organ donor? I am. In fact, I ticked that box on my license registration without thinking much about it. When I encouraged my children to do the same, I did think a little more about it (these are my kids, after all!), hoping against hope that I would never have to face a situation where this decision came into play. As you can see, all of my admittedly slight thinking about it focused on the tragic, not on the equally important miraculous, life giving aspects of organ donation. For the sick and dying person waiting for a healthy organ, finally getting a match is an amazing thing indeed. But that’s not the end of the story at all; it’s not even the beginning. The wait for a donor organ be emotionally and physically brutal but life afterwards isn’t easy and worry free either. Amy Silverstein’s memoir of her second heart transplant, twenty-five years after her first, is an honest and moving look at all of the factors, good, bad, and everything in between, that she faced, with the help of her husband and her dearest friends, as she waited again for a heart to become available. It is a celebration of life, its fragility and its strength, and of the people who make up that life and indeed make it worth holding onto.

At the age of fifty, Amy Silverstein’s twenty-five year old transplanted heart started to fail from the development of vasculopathy, a common and deadly problem with transplanted hearts. Silverstein had long since survived the 10 years that she was initially told she’d have with her new heart and in that time she’d not only married and raised her son but she’d also faced many medical emergencies related to her transplant and undergone a double mastectomy for breast cancer. Silverstein knew firsthand that a retransplant would not be easy or mean that she would be cured forever and so she agonized over whether or not to go ahead and get on the list for a new heart, what that would mean to her emotionally and physically, and how her decision would impact her husband and her close friends. Once she decided to hope for retransplant, she and husband Scott moved to California to be closer to Cedars-Sinai for when a heart became available. During the months that Silverstein would wait, her friends from all stages of her life rallied around her. Nine women came out to stay with her on a rotating basis, to try and help her cope with everything and to give Scott a tiny break from the intensity and sleep deprivation. As they did this, Silverstein also learned a lot about each of the women, about her friendship with them, about herself, and about love and selflessness in new and deeper ways.

The memoir is self-reflective and emotional and Silverstein doesn’t whitewash the parts where her fear and anger get the better of her. She gives the reader intimate access into what makes her tick and how she makes decisions but also shares where her blunt approach is unfair to those around her and how, as the days and months tick past, she considers her impact on others, confronting her husband’s admonition to think about how she wants people to remember her in both the short term and for all time. Her fierce gratitude to those who shared her journey to a new heart shines through the pages of this unusual celebration of friendship. While Silverstein’s story is certainly medically interesting, it is the strong and continued support of those friends who gave up so much of themselves and their time to be fully present there with her, to make sure she was never alone, that make this memoir so beautiful and inspiring. Truly for Amy Silverstein, as the quote from Yeats (and the source of the title) says, “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends."

For more information about Amy Silverstein and the book, check out herwebsite or like her on Facebook. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. I am an organ donor, and stories like Amy's are great reminders of why I made that choice in the beginning.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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