What is your favourite book about a family going through an intense medical situation?
This question is lifted from author Sahar Sabati's informative Ask an Author series, which ran from 2015-2016 and included responses and reflections from English-speaking authors from around the globe. Since I'm often asked these questions by readers, I have republished my answers here with Sahar's kind permission.
The book that has most moved me about an intense medical situation hasn’t found a publisher yet, but I’ve been privileged enough to read it. Entitled Love, Loss and Facebook, it’s written by my friend and colleague Dawn Picken, and tells of the devastating loss of her cameraman husband Sean a few years ago. After Sean’s death, Dawn travelled the world with her two small children and her husband’s ashes—sprinkled liberally with cinnamon and re-named cake mix—in search of fresh memories. Driving herself on for the sake of the children, and barely holding things together, she finds herself on the other side of the world, where she discovers a beach, a mountain, and a Kiwi bloke named Pete. Laced with black humour and achingly poignant observations, it’s a story to make you laugh and cry and laugh again, sometimes in the space of a page. There is an element of healing in writing, a way of working through things. The act of putting words on the page somehow helps us to see things more clearly, and ultimately to thumb our noses at the bad stuff. Dawn’s story does exactly that, showing grief in all its stages, and proving that sometimes renewal and recovery can be found in the most unexpected places. I will be recommending Dawn Picken’s Love, Loss and Facebook to anyone experiencing a tough time through illness, just as soon as a publisher with pluck and vision comes along and snaps it up.