Monday, April 07, 2008

Wicked Cool Overlooked Books: Going for the Record

Swanson, Julie. 2004. GOING FOR THE RECORD. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0802852734.

Leah Weiczynkowski is seventeen years old. She's a soccer player who has wonderful news for her father: she's just made the Region II Under-18 Olympic Developmental Program team with an opportunity in August of making the National team. But her father has news of his own: during the week she was away at soccer camp, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he only has three months to live.

Leah, of course, is in a state of shock and disbelief. She doesn't want to accept the news--and does everything she can to deny it. He doesn't look that sick. Maybe the doctors were wrong. Maybe he'll be miraculously healed. Maybe they're some kind of cure or alternative treatment that will save his life. She goes to the bookstore and finds all of these self-healing, positive-thinking books and she also goes to the nutrition store and buys all these alternative type drugs. But her father will have none of it. He is past the stage of denial....he knows that whether or not he is ready to die...or whether or not his family is ready for him to die...that he really has no choice in the matter.

Leah's father signs a living will stating that he does not want any life-saving measures to be taken. He wants to die at home away from the hospital. He is in the hospice program. They have nurses come to the house regularly to care for him. They give him pain killers to ease his pain and keep him comfortable.

Leah doesn't know how to react or how to live her life with her father dying in front of her eyes. Practicing soccer three or four hours a day...driving around with at the mall...etc...all seem pointlessly unsignificant in the scope of things. She doesn't want to lose a moment of time with her father. But at the same time, he's urging her not to give up her dreams to sit home and watch him die. He wants her to go to soccer camp and try to make the National team--after all, hasn't that what she's been working hard for all these years? During this time she's very angry. She's angry and acting out against her friends.

She goes to camp, but with a heavy heart, a few days into camp...she's called home. Her father's failing. He is not quite ready to die yet. But this close call forces Leah out of denial. The whole family is hoping, praying, begging that he will be able to live long enough to see the birth of his first grandchild due the first week of September. All of the family--Leah's older brother Paul, and her pregnant sister Mary--come home to say goodbye. Her uncles and aunts say their goodbyes. But eventually Leah and her mom are left at home with him watching him die.

A few weeks before his close call, the father and daughter have a chat about how he is ready to die...and how he's ready to go home and be with Jesus. And although Leah's relunctant to let him give him permission to go...the more pain she sees her father in...the weaker he gets...the more disoriented and disconnected he is from reality...she begins to realize the kindest thing in the world would be to let her father not pray for his recovery...but pray that God would take him...that God would spare him another day of pain.

He survives several days past the birth of his grandchild...but as soon as he hears news of its birth...he begins to let go...he disconnects himself from the world...and his family. His condition starts to deteriorate quickly. It was true that he was fighting to hold on to life for the birth...and now he has no reason to keep fighting...he can just let go.

After his death, she's very depressed--naturally--and she is hesitant to enter social life. She has no interest in ever playing soccer again. She does patch things up with her friend Clay...but mainly this is a slow healing process for her.

This is one of the hardest books I've ever read. It is a very accurate, realistic, honest look at how it feels to watch someone you love very deeply die. The book had me close to tears in several places. The feelings were just so true--so honest. My grandfather died of bladder cancer and was in hospice...and reading those chapters about his last few weeks...were just so right. The author just got everything right in those scenes. Anyway, it was a powerful well written novel.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP