Score: 93/100 (9.3 out of 10)
Unbearable Burden by Krista Isaacson is a heartbreaking, heart-wrenching, emotional memoir about the terminal illness and prospect of losing one's child. It's every parent's worst nightmare, and Krista Isaacson bravely details the experiences of her and her family as they confronted it.
This book is very detailed and beautifully written at times. That is encapsulated in passages like, “Her words sliced me open, but I had no time to bleed.”
There are some issues with it actually being overly detailed and sometimes drawn-out (affecting pacing), but it is a dramatic, tense, and harrowing real-life tale nonetheless.
Krista struggles in the final days of her young daughter, Elora, who was not only born with a cancerous tumor, but who suffered multiple strokes. There are a few pictures in here of Elora as well as descriptions, and it really hits hard. Actually, the details and the pictures that occasionally accompany them hit like a bag of bricks. Yet, they're still so beautiful.
You really have to be emotionally ready & braced for this book. You can really feel the sorrow and sadness of the participants. The misery seeps out of the pages of the book and grabs you. It's gripping. We don't mean this in a negative sense (necessarily), but it can be miserable.
We've read books about the Holocaust, a child with Trisomy-18, various types of abuse, yet for some reason this book seemed to get us down the most. It's almost like a sick feeling—a profound sense of malaise—perhaps the empathy of loss. And perhaps that's the point. You feel a bit of how Krista feels. You experience a bit of what Krista experienced.
The weight of finality seems to be one of the most painful thing about this experience. The author, as we would, reflected on every “last” or “final” experience with their child and mourned not remembering every little detail of these experiences.
However, there is hope tucked away in this book, primarily in the author's Christian (possibly LDS) faith. Mormonism isn't overbearing or in-your-face, so it needn't deter non-religious readers or readers of different faiths. However, you do pick it up from time to time. For example, the author quotes the book of Alma (from the Book of Mormon) at least once and there are references to locations in Utah, the home of the LDS Church. Ultimately, this faith gives the author and their family hope of resurrection and a reunion with the lost loved one in the afterlife (or heaven). There is the idea of a “last earthly hug” which implies that there will be a spiritual one in the future.
This book might serve as an inspirational book or one on coping for those who are suffering through similar experiences. Perhaps you have a terminally ill loved one and are wrestling with many of the same thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Perhaps you're faced with the unbearable burden of deciding a loved one's fate or on the uncomfortable process of arranging a funeral.
This book is a powerful, emotional, moving real-life story.
You can check it out on Amazon!
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