What We Have: One Family's Inspiring Story about Love, Loss, and Survival

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Read Amy Boesky's blogs and view other content on the Penguin Community.

The stirring true story of a woman who chose fearlessness in the face of a fatal family legacy and discovered the pleasure of living each moment to its fullest

At thirty-two, Amy Boesky thought she had it all figured out: a wonderful new man in her life, a great job, and the (nearly) perfect home. For once, she was almost able to shake the terrible fear that had gripped ...

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What We Have: One Family's Inspiring Story about Love, Loss, and Survival

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Overview

Read Amy Boesky's blogs and view other content on the Penguin Community.

The stirring true story of a woman who chose fearlessness in the face of a fatal family legacy and discovered the pleasure of living each moment to its fullest

At thirty-two, Amy Boesky thought she had it all figured out: a wonderful new man in her life, a great job, and the (nearly) perfect home. For once, she was almost able to shake the terrible fear that had gripped her for as long as she could remember. Women in her family had always died young-from cancer-and she and her sisters had grown up in time's shadow. It colored every choice they made and was beginning to come to a head now that each of them approached thirty-five-the deadline their doctors prescribed for having preventive surgery with the hope they could thwart their family's medical curse. But Amy didn't want to dwell on that now. She wanted to plan for a new baby, live her life. And with the appreciation for life's smallest pleasures, she did just that. In What We Have, Amy shares a deeply transformative year in her family's life and invites readers to join in their joy, laughter, and grief.

In a true story as compelling as the best in women's fiction, written with the sagacity of Joan Didion and the elegance of Amy Bloom, Amy Boesky's journey celebrates the promise of a full life, even in the face of uncertainty.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The cluster of cancers in Boesky's family had been identified by 1993, striking the women on her mother's side in the form of ovarian cancer through the generations, well before the BRCA mutations had been recognized. In this deftly wrought, engaging memoir, Boesky (Sweet Valley High series) tracks how she navigated her own decisions in light of her family's health history around her marriage and two pregnancies in her early-to-mid-30s. Boesky and her two sisters, who grew up in Detroit, knew that having children early and removing their ovaries by age 35 were essential to their life plan; their grandmother, several great-aunts, aunts, and a cousin had died by their mid-40s from ovarian cancer, and the sisters weren't taking any chances. Their own mother had undergone a complete hysterectomy at age 49. As Boesky chronicles her single-minded pursuit of marriage, fledgling jobs as an associate professor of English literature, first at Georgetown University, and the sense of urgency she feels at having her children as soon as possible, their mother has a small breast tumor removed, and five years later is diagnosed with full-blown, inoperable bone cancer. As a scholar of 17th-century English literature, Boesky weaves into the narrative the first uses of timepieces and watches as an ingenious leitmotiv and reminder of the fleeting nature of time, fashioning a touching resolution to this useful cautionary tale. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592405510
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/5/2010
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

A graduate of Oxford and Harvard, Amy Boesky is an associate professor of English at Boston College. She was one of the principal ghostwriters for the bestselling young adult series "Sweet Valley High". She lives in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, with her husband and their two daughters.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

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    A Mom's Choice Awards Recipient!

    What We Have is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS's Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, and New York Times best-selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom's Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2010

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    One family's inspiring true story about love, loss and survival!

    How do you begin to deal with the knowledge that the women on your side of the family have a history of getting cancer and then dying at a very early age?

    That's just what the book, What We Have, One Family's Inspiring Story About Love, Loss and Survival by Amy Boesky does in a memoir that reads like a novel.

    I've known people in my life but none of them family members who have had to deal with cancer, or the loss of someone due to cancer. Some are winners in their battles but unfortunately most aren't and the ending of their chapter in life isn't the best part of the book.

    In this true story of Amy Boesky's family, we learn what its like to live in the shadow of fear wondering if every rash, mole or lump could be the dread cancer the women in her family have come to fear. Most of them dying before the age of 45.

    She has lived her whole life knowing with certainty that the old black and white photos that are on her mothers wall are just reminders of that fact. She plans and dreads her 35th birthday when she knows with 100% confidence that she will have a complete hysterectomy to save herself from possible ovarian cancer that you truly see how far this fear has motivated all her decisions in life.

    When fate strikes back in the form of a breast cancer instead of what they were suspecting, it completely turns the plans of betting back cancer on end. How far will she go to prevent cancer from taking her life like all the women before her.

    I received this wonderful heartwarming memoir from TLC Book Tours for my honest review and understand how devastating cancer can take a human life. I would recommend this book for anyone who has lived that life of fear or knows someone who is as a reminder of just how fear can take your life away. I would rate this book a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. The only thing missing in this book is what faith in God could have done to salvage her family and given them a sense of peace and calm in a turmoil.

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