Sunday, March 26, 2017

Losing Susan: A Book Review

About The Book:

The Story of Brain Disease and the Priest's Wife

This is the story of Susan--a wife, a mother, a Christian believer, a lover of children, a writer of stories, and a woman of extraordinary intellect. Susan was diagnosed with a brain tumor in her late thirties. Although it was successfully treated, the process led to her slow and unending decline throughout the remaining nineteen years of her life.

In this personal story of love and loss, seasoned pastor-theologian Victor Lee Austin shares how caring for his wife during her long, painful struggle with brain cancer and its aftereffects brought him face-to-face with his God and with his faith in unsettling ways. God gave Victor what his heart most desired--marriage to Susan--then God took away what he had given. Yet God never withdrew his presence. Weaving together autobiographical details and profound theological insights, this powerful narrative of suffering and love is told with bracing honesty. It shows that while we cannot tidily make sense of God's role in suffering, we are called to turn to him in the face of pain and death.

1. The Beginning

How We Met--How We Went to Church--That Summer--The Previous Christmas--Her Brilliant Childhood--A Hug--The Second-Best Book in the Bible--Rejection and Reversal--Heart's Desire--The Advent Calendar--The Tree of Life--Christmas Day--A Letter to Mr. Buckley--Susan Is Published on Abortion--Children--More Children

2. The Middle

Lights--To Do What Needs to Be Done--Prayer No Longer Makes Sense--Seizure Control--Where Was God?--He Taketh Away--On the Other Hand--God Intends to Kill Us--The Executive Function--How That Worked Out--Evil: Take One--Evil: Take Two--Evil: Take Three--The Hip--My Church Friends--Hydrocephalus--Graduations--Prevenient Grace--We Never Doubted God's Reality--Back to College--Back to Church--Susan Walking--Those Earlier Falls

3. The End

The Return of the Seizure--And Another--This Time in Hospital--Why I Witness to These Details--The Pebble Dare--The Year That Would Be the Last--At the Epilepsy
Unit--The Dark Night--Being Heard--Recovery--Anxiety--What the Body Knows--Blessed Speech Therapists--The Happy Return to October; Its Tragic End--The Best Book in the Bible--Sandy--What Is It?--The Kidneys Have Their Say--Crossing Another Line--Tears and Hope--December 17, 2012--May She Rest--A Christian Service--Little Lady--Why Have You Forsaken Me?--Divergence and a Dream

Epilogue: To Plumb the Depths of God's Love by Susan Austin

You can read an excerpt of Losing Susan here, in PDF format

About The Author:

Victor Lee Austin (PhD, Fordham University), an Episcopal priest, is canon theologian and theologian-in-residence for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and Church of the Incarnation in uptown Dallas. He has taught in various academic settings and is the author of several books, including Christian Ethics: A Guide for the Perplexed and Up with Authority. He previously served as theologian-in-residence at the historic St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

My Review:

As an almost 12 year cancer survivor I anticipated being very affected by reading Losing Susan. I was not mistaken. I cried, a lot! While my journey through cancer was not even close to what Susan had, many of the emotional thoughts, the spiritual journey were similar. I was just in awe at how Austin wrote this memoir. My greatest take away from the book was that when we walk through a journey like this with people they do not want textbook/Bible answers, they want the person listening to listen with heart and use every day words to encourage. That's it, period. Such a hard read from an emotional standpoint but one that anyone who is walking through a health crisis/end of life situation with needs to read. Perfect for caregivers and care pastors for sure.

I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Losing Susan at your favorite Christian book retailer from Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc., for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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