Survival Lessons

( 6 )

Overview

One of America's most beloved writers shares her suggestions for finding beauty in the world even during the toughest times.

Survival Lessons provides a road map of how to reclaim your life from this day forward, with ways to reenvision everything—from relationships with friends and family to the way you see yourself. As Alice Hoffman says, “In many ways I wrote Survival Lessons to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that’s all too easy to overlook during the crisis ...

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Overview

One of America's most beloved writers shares her suggestions for finding beauty in the world even during the toughest times.

Survival Lessons provides a road map of how to reclaim your life from this day forward, with ways to reenvision everything—from relationships with friends and family to the way you see yourself. As Alice Hoffman says, “In many ways I wrote Survival Lessons to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that’s all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss. I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts of sorrow and joy, and that it is impossible to have one without the other. I wrote to remind myself that despite everything that was happening to me, there were still choices I could make.”

Wise, gentle, and wry, Alice Hoffman teaches all of us how to choose what matters most.

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Editorial Reviews

Review quotes

“In this gem of a book, Alice Hoffman acknowledges the sorrows of life, while reminding us of its joys. Survival Lessons is filled with love, insight, and lots of practical advice--including a crazy-good brownie recipe. I'll be sharing this book widely, but keeping one copy permanently on my nightstand for all the times I'll need its wisdom and warmth.” —Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“Full of smart intentions and kind reminders . . . Uplifting advice we’ll gladly take.” Better Homes & Gardens

“Very warm, humble, sometimes funny, infused with a spirit of optimism.” The Jewish Week

“The book is not about her breast cancer per se but about making choices (each chapter is titled “Choose…”) that will improve readers’ lives and relationships and remind them 'of the beauty of life.' More than cancer sufferers will be glad they picked up this tiny gem.” —Library Journal

“It may be short, but it's powerful. An absolutely beautiful book.”—Sue Monk Kidd

“Heartening.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Writing with sparkling directness, warmth, humor, and long-steeped wisdom, Hoffman has created a companionable and genuinely useful book for times of crisis. Small, intimate, and lovely . . . Hoffman’s storytelling artistry enlivens each intimate, thoughtfully distilled, charming, and nurturing lesson in living.” —Booklist

Library Journal
09/01/2013
Prolific author Hoffman (The Dovekeepers; The Red Garden) took 15 years to write the book she wishes she had had upon her diagnosis. The book is not about her breast cancer per se but about making choices (each chapter is titled "Choose…") that will improve readers' lives and relationships and remind them "of the beauty of life." More than cancer sufferers will be glad they picked up this tiny gem.
Kirkus Reviews
A how-to guide to facing death and living life by the popular novelist and cancer survivor. When Hoffman (The Dovekeepers, 2011, etc.) received the diagnosis about her lump, her immediate response was denial: "I was busy after all, the mother of two young sons, caring for my ill mother, involved in my writing. My most recent novel, Here on Earth, had been chosen as an Oprah Book Club Choice; an earlier novel, Practical Magic, was being filmed in California with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. I didn't have time to be ill." Once she came to terms with the fact that disease doesn't necessarily strike at our convenience, she was able to deal directly with her situation, put her life in perspective and get her priorities in order. She was one of the lucky ones--15 years later, she remains very much alive and productive, capable of writing the book that might have helped her when the shock of cancer blindsided her. "In many ways I wrote Survival Lessons for myself to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that's all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss," she writes. Though Hoffman has earned renown as a talented writer, this isn't really a writerly book, but more like conversational advice from a close friend. Most of the advice is common sense, yet the element of choice is crucial when faced with a fate that seems beyond your control. You can choose how to respond and put your crisis in perspective: "Good fortune and bad luck are always tied together with invisible, unbreakable thread." Hoffman ends with words of wisdom from her oncologist, who advised that, "cancer didn't have to be my entire novel. It was just a chapter." In other words, this too shall pass. A lightweight but heartening book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616203146
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 49,807
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice  Hoffman

Alice Hoffman has published twenty-one novels, three books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her books have been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels, many of which have been New York Tiimes bestsellers, have received mention as notable books of the year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People magazine. Alice’s advance from Survival Lessons will be donated to the Hoffman Breast Center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Biography

Born in the 1950s to college-educated parents who divorced when she was young, Alice Hoffman was raised by her single, working mother in a blue-collar Long Island neighborhood. Although she felt like an outsider growing up, she discovered that these feelings of not quite belonging positioned her uniquely to observe people from a distance. Later, she would hone this viewpoint in stories that captured the full intensity of the human experience.

After high school, Hoffman went to work for the Doubleday factory in Garden City. But the eight-hour, supervised workday was not for her, and she quit before lunch on her first day! She enrolled in night school at Adelphi University, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English. She went on to attend Stanford University's Creative Writing Center on a Mirrellees Fellowship. Her mentor at Stanford, the great teacher and novelist Albert Guerard, helped to get her first story published in the literary magazine Fiction. The story attracted the attention of legendary editor Ted Solotaroff, who asked if she had written any longer fiction. She hadn't -- but immediately set to work. In 1977, when Hoffman was 25, her first novel, Property Of, was published to great fanfare.

Since that remarkable debut, Hoffman has carved herself a unique niche in American fiction. A favorite with teens as well as adults, she renders life's deepest mysteries immediately understandable in stories suffused with magic realism and a dreamy, fairy-tale sensibility. (In a 1994 article for The New York Times, interviewer Ruth Reichl described the magic in Hoffman's books as a casual, regular occurrence -- "...so offhand that even the most skeptical reader can accept it.") Her characters' lives are transformed by uncontrollable forces -- love and loss, sorrow and bliss, danger and death.

Hoffman's 1997 novel Here on Earth was selected as an Oprah Book Club pick, but even without Winfrey's powerful endorsement, her books have become huge bestsellers -- including three that have been adapted for the movies: Practical Magic (1995), The River King (2000), and her YA fable Aquamarine (2001).

Hoffman is a breast cancer survivor; and like many people who consider themselves blessed with luck, she believes strongly in giving back. For this reason, she donated her advance from her 1999 short story collection Local Girls to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Good To Know

  • Hoffman has written a number of children's books, including Fireflies: A Winter's Tale(1999), Horsefly (2000), and Moondog (2004).

  • Aquamarine was written for Hoffman's best friend, Jo Ann, who dreamed of the freedom of mermaids as she battled brain cancer.

  • Here on Earth is a modern version of Hoffman's favorite novel, Wuthering Heights.

  • Hoffman has been honored with the Massachusetts Book Award for her teen novel Incantation.
  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        Boston, Massachusetts
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 16, 1952
      2. Place of Birth:
        New York, New York
      1. Education:
        B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt

    All the while I was in treatment I was looking for a guidebook. I needed help in my new situation. I needed to know how people survived trauma. It took all this time for me to figure out what I would have most wanted to hear when I was newly diagnosed, when I lost the people I loved, when I was deeply disappointed in myself and the turns my life had taken.

    Read More Show Less

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 6 )
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    Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 22, 2013

      I thoroughly enjoyed this book! With humor and depth of feeling

      I thoroughly enjoyed this book! With humor and depth of feeling, Alice Hoffman tells her own personal story of cancer survival interlaced with the challenges she encountered since a young child. This book is a perfect gift to give to oneself, as well as to family members and friends. The message of hope lasts well beyond turning the last page of this special book.

      1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 22, 2013

      Alice Hoffman works her magic again, although not in the ways we

      Alice Hoffman works her magic again, although not in the ways we’re used to. This talented novelist, using bits of her own history and her experience as a cancer survivor, has written a guide book to help us all navigate, not just illness or trauma, but the inevitable sorrows of life itself. In short, charmingly illustrated chapters, we are told of ways to live a life of purpose, true to oneself and in the present moment, whatever the circumstances. Resiliency, connection, honesty and above all love are the threads with she has woven this cozy blanket of a book. Highly recommended. And with a great recipe for brownies to boot!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 21, 2014

      Beautiful! Ms. Hoffman is magical. An inspirational and and en

      Beautiful! Ms. Hoffman is magical. An inspirational and and endearing book that would be perfect for anyone.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted January 26, 2014

      inspirational

      plan to give this to a few friends, good words of encouragement.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 20, 2013

      An inspirational gem filled with hope and wonderfully written su

      An inspirational gem filled with hope and wonderfully written suggestions for dealing with trauma in a positive way. I'm giving my copy to a friend and getting another.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted October 16, 2013

      No text was provided for this review.

    Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

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