Thursday, September 26, 2013

A review of Beyond Breathing, by Margarete Cassalina...

Here's another book review, because Epinions is still screwy.  This book, like the one I reviewed a few days ago, is about a family dealing with cystic fibrosis.  Margarete Cassalina, author of Beyond Breathing (2009), did not have the happiest childhood.  Her mother was emotionally unavailable to her.  When Cassalina became a mother herself, she was determined to be all the things to her kids that her mother wasn't to her.

Sadly, both Maragete and her husband, Marc, are carriers of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis.  Both her son, Eric, and daughter, Jena, were afflicted with CF.  Jena's case was more severe than her brother's was.  She died on December 4, 2006, at the age of 13, while awaiting a double lung transplant.

Margarete Cassalina pulls no punches when she writes about her own demons.  She admits to being "fat" and chronically unsuccessful on diets.  She also admits to drinking too much and being depressed occasionally.  I found these revelations somewhat interesting because they would certainly present challenges for a parent taking care of two kids with cystic fibrosis.  What really came through to me in this book that Cassalina has an indescribable love for her daughter and Jena's presence inspired and uplifted her.

Cassalina has a very expressive writing style.  She writes as if she's sitting next to you, telling you about her experiences.  I think I would have preferred more detail about Jena's and Eric's experiences with CF.  This book is really more about Cassalina's experiences as a mother of a child with CF than it is about the child's experiences with CF.  For that reason, I think it will probably appeal most to someone who is parenting a child with cystic fibrosis.  She doesn't write very much about her son, Eric, which made me wonder how he was coping with the disease.  I would think that as difficult as cystic fibrosis is, having two kids with it would be especially challenging.  Curiously, Cassalina seems to have little to say about it.  Still, this book is mostly beautifully written and shows how much Cassalina loves and misses her daughter and how it has taken time for her to recover from the loss.

Beyond Breathing is a mother's moving tribute to her daughter, who died far too young.  Margarete Cassalina and her husband, both extremely active in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, are donating 65% of the proceeds from the sale of this book back to the foundation.   I recommend it and, if I were posting this review on Epinions, would probably give it four stars.

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