Kate Bowler, Everything Happens for a Reason Book Review

Bill Gates recommended and reviewed this book.  And I try to pick up anything he recommends. How could you not? He’s got loads of money, is trying to save the world almost single-handily, and reads far more books than me. So when he suggests a book, I pay attention.

Almost all of his books hit the mark for me. They resonant, move, and impact me.

This book, unfortunately, was one of those rare stories where I just had a hard time connecting with the author. And that is surprising considering the power and depth of her story. Diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, one of the ugliest forms of cancers she says.

The first lesson of my new cancer life-the first thing to go is pride.

Then there was her mystery illness no doctor could fix.

And then her background with the prosperity gospel. She teaches the history of Christianity as a professor at Duke Divinity School.

Her book could write itself, and I feel like it did in this case.

It was a difficult read because it was hard to follow. The writing style had her bouncing between cancer treatments, old illnesses, moments spent in churches, and the stories of a funky, sarcastic woman who conveys that in her writing.

When I came up for air with this book, I just kept thinking about how sassy she is and how amazing she would be to know. Her life is fascinating, but her strong will is something to admire. My only qualms were with the story.

There were some unbelievable moments that brought the severity — in what was otherwise a light-hearted book — back to the reader.

The moments of vulnerability where she thinks or her husband.

I don’t want this to be the end of our both lives

Then there is the will of Kate Bowler herself. And she is constantly fighting with this question of fighting the cancer or allowing yourself to surrender to the pain. In her own words:

I continue to work full days. I get up at 6:30 A.M. every day — no matter what — so I won’t miss a moment with my son. When I stop taking the medication that minimizes the numb feeling in my hands and feet, because I want to feel every shred of what is happening to me, my friends practically stage an intervention. When will I realize that surrender is not weakness?

Ask yourself in this situation: What would you do?

And then there’s the perspective from her family and friends. One of my favorite stories is about health care and how her potential life-saving treatment might not be covered by insurance. And it’s costly.

Don’t worry,” says my dad, putting down his book. “Your mother and I have $140,000 in liquid assets.” I will only find out later that my family have all appraised their homes and savings plans — every last one of them — to see what they can cobble together to save my life. My best shot at survival will bankrupt my family.

My best shot at survival will bankrupt my family. How incredibly humbling that line. To even be able to think it, let alone say it aloud.

There is so much value in this little tale. And if the writing style doesn’t fit your fancy, I still urge you to finish in order to see the whole scope of the story.

Perhaps the most important takeaways are how to grieve and comfort someone in pain or going through a loss. Most of the time words are meaningless.

Kate says, “Let’s go back to loving each other in silence.” Just being there was enough.

This was a quote from her husband, which I thought was just brilliant.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“I’d love to hear it,” he replied.

“Pardon?” she said, startled.

“The reason my wife is dying,” he said.

Our words have meaning.

Perhaps the most important words came from a conversation with her doctor. And this was worth reading the book alone:

Don’t skip to the end,” he said, gently. “Don’t skip to the end.

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