Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Review - Twelve Months by Steven Manchester

Twelve Months by Steven Manchester, is probably one of the most heart-wrenching, emotional books I've ever read in my entire life.

Don DiMarco has a really good life; a wife Bella that he adores, a wonderful daughter Riley and her husband Mark who he couldn't wish better for and two amazing grandchildren that complete his life.  When he finds himself feeling particularly unwell and one day goes to the doctors, he finds out he has inoperable stage 4 colon cancer and has approximately twelve months to live.

He decides that he's not going to have treatment which could prolong his life, but won't give him any quality of life.  He therefore spends the time that he has left showing his wife just how much he loves her and treats her the way he always should have, spending time with his beautiful grandchildren and showing his daughter and her husband just how much he loves them.  He lays to rest ghosts that have hung about him for too long, makes amends and peace with people he'd lost touch with and makes sure that he is kind to everyone around him trying to help people in similar and worse situations than himself. 

He makes a wish list of five things he would like to do before he dies and along with them, he experiences many beautiful moments throughout this period of his life and meets some amazing people who put his life and his wishes into complete perspective.  When he is finally sure that he has done all he can do and say all that there was to be said and that his time has come, he is taken from his family.

OMG! I think I spent the majority of this book in tears. When I say tears, I don't mean delicate little diamond drops of tears that Cheryl Cole used to do on the X Factor boot camps!  I mean heart-wrenching, shoulder-shaking, chest-heaving, nose-running, spluttering tears that I haven't cried for a very long time.  To be honest, just trying to write this review I'm finding really tough and have at this very moment tears streaming down my cheeks!

It really was the most emotional book I have ever read in my entire life. But beautiful at the same time.

It does make you wonder about your own life and that of your friends and family. About what you could do to help others to cope and to ensure that you do everything you can to make every second count, because to quote what a friend said to me recently "life does have an expiry date!"  It gives you the message to live your life to the full

It was probably made far more emotional for me to think that some of the experiences that Don DiMarco went through in his life, my dear mom went through in her battle with cancer and how hard that must have been for her, knowing that she had to say goodbye to us; her family that she loved so much and that she had spent her whole life looking after.  Unfortunately, when we found out just how ill my darling mom was, she was too ill and too weary to be able to do much at all.  And I know that somewhere deep in my heart, I have to forgive the doctor who told her that she had weeks to live, because from the moment she knew that she went rapidly downhill and that my anger towards that doctor beats me up even now!

Some people though, have their loved ones taken suddenly without being able to right all the wrongs they would always want to do.  My Nan - god bless her - always told us that we should tell people we love them, as you never know when you'll get your last chance to say it.  At least I remember my mom's last words to me were that she loved me and would always would!

Whilst I am now a total emotional wreck from reading this book, raking up my past and writing this review, I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found it extremely cathartic.  I'm glad I was given the opportunity to read this magnificent book which was so beautifully written.  I read 280 pages in one sitting, then finished the last few before work this morning.  You don't want to even begin to imagine how I look today!

Thank you Steven Manchester for your wonderful, wonderful book.  I feel honoured and privilaged to have shared Don DiMarco's innermost thoughts and feelings and have been truly touched by this book. 

I do think however, that it should come with the warning "Not for the faint-hearted, you will need tissues!"  I'm off now to write a list of things I've always wanted to do and put off for whatever reason and speak to all the people I love in my life.   I'm going to live my life to the full!

Steven Manchester is the author of Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as writing several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts.  His work has appeard on many USA television and news shows.  Recently, three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Like Steven on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStevenManchester


Janice said...

Oh my goodness Kim - do I dare read this book? I cry at the drop of an emotional hat while reading books, watching movies - watching the Olympics - in fact at the slightest provocation!

But then how can I not read what sounds like a life affirming and thought provoking book, which reminds us of the important things and how we should value them?

Thanks for the review Kim. I'll let you know how I get on!

Janice xx

Linn B Halton & Lucy Coleman said...

This sounds amazing! What an impact to have had on you that it immediately reminds you how precious each day is... so many people who have had a brush with death regard it as a wake-up call. Life is much shorter than we think, the nice thing is that if you believe in life after death though it doesn't end there. Sometimes I like a good cry, it's cathartic although after a couple of tough years losing close relatives I'd have to feel a bit stronger first. I'm still having days where I miss them so much I can cry at the drop of a hat. I will add this to my reading list though!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I can read it myself... Having lost my father last year it's too close. However, it sounds like a truly well-written work. Thank you Kim for the review and for pushing past the tears.

Rea's Book Reviews said...

Kim Kim Kim what are you doing to me !!! Im nearly in tears reading the review let alone the book!! will look out for this one xXx

Teena in Toronto said...

I enjoyed it :)

Steve Manchester said...

Kim- thanks again for this amazing review!