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Wow! I can't say a bad word about this well written, well developed, detailed, raw and intelligent book! Difficult and earth shattering topics are exposed and portrayed with grace, detail, heart, understanding and excellent style. Wonderful book!!
This is a beautifully written story that encompasses an elemental truth: live for now; the next day, hour, even minute, could be too late. Sara and Ben have both been diagnosed with terminal cancer and the meet, as they well might, in an oncologist’s waiting room. Sara has been offered the chance of taking part in an experimental treatment regime. Reassured that it has few of the appalling side-effects of traditional treatment, which is doing no good, she signs up; she has nothing to lose. Ben, newly diagnosed and shocked, eventually responds to Sara’s mantra of living to the full while they can, and to her determined efforts to take him as her lover.
Given the many truly exquisite scenes when Sara and Ben have “good days” and the tenderness when one of them is suffering too much to hide it, it would have been possible to leave it like that and still show that the likelihood of death tearing them apart made them revaluate their lives. Paulette Mahurin digs deep into both their pasts: the experiences and the people that have created Sara and Ben, and she does it by introducing rounded characters that gain depth every time they appear. This is a book to treasure and reread.
Sara has cancer, Ben has cancer; they meet when they are both referred for the same drug trial. It's a trial for those patients who have few or no other options. This is the start of the story so the reader expects a rough ride but actually what follows is a lesson in what we all should do, sick or otherwise; live for the moment, never expect life to stop offering something good even in the gravest of times, and when it does... Grab it! Both Sara and Ben have parental issues but they also have good friends and loving relationships in their lives. Sara has a stalwart friend, Ellen who has supported her tirelessly through her illness. Ben has a brother he is close to. But when Sara spots Ben she instinctively senses that she has a chance at love, maybe a last chance and she aggressively orchestrates a meeting with him in a way that might have seemed quite contrived in some chick-lit rom-com. However her moves are so significant in this story based on true life. Sara has learned the hard way that life's opportunities should never be wasted, a lesson that many of those who beat cancer carry with them for the rest of their lives. Sara contacts Ben. The account is sad but happy and very uplifting. Faced with this story to tell the author has given a fearlessly straightforward account of the highs and lows of this dreadful disease and recreated the beautiful side of what can happen to courageous people. I am a cancer survivor. It was a long time ago. I don't dwell on it but I never forget how lucky I am.
The title of this books lets you know exactly what you're about to read. At first I didn't think the title was a good idea but as I read through the book I began to appreciate the title and its revelation on what was to come, I was prepared then for the end. This is a beautifully written story of real love in a real life situation. I found it touching and moving. This is a book that deserves to be read.
A moving and elegantly-written love story about two cancer patients who meet and fall in love. Not knowing how much time on earth either of them have, they approach their new relationship with wondrous eyes and gratitude for every moment. Taking the time to work through their family issues, they find a level of intimacy neither has previously found before. This was worth reading for the good writing and the moving story.
His Name Was Ben is a sensitively written, well-characterised story about the effects of living with potentially terminal illness. It begins with the protagonist, Sara, a woman undergoing treatment for advanced breast cancer, receiving an invitation to participate in a trial for an experimental, possibly life-saving treatment. For Sara, this could be the last throw of the dice and her underlying anxieties are explored with great empathy. In her doctor's waiting room, she sees, and is instantly drawn to Ben, a fellow patient, and what follows is the story of their developing relationship.
At times gentle, at others angry and occasionally sensual, but never less than compelling, this is a very well-written book; in spite of the ostensibly bleak subject matter, I devoured this in a couple of sittings. Clearly, Mahurin knows how to craft a narrative and I'd frequently find myself wanting to read 'just another chapter' long after I should have turned in for the night. Partly, this is down to the skilful way she captures the tensions and resolutions of a burgeoning romance but she also introduces intriguing subplots about Ben and Sara's respective backgrounds. Another strength lies in the believable characters. Sara's mother, in particular, is brilliantly drawn; initially an all-too recognisable grotesque, she evolves into something much more rounded as the book progresses.
SPOILER?: I do, unfortunately, have one reservation about the book and it revolves around the depiction of Sara's brother. He's identified early on as a sufferer of schizophrenia and then viewed only through the prism of others perspective of him. Eventually, it becomes clear why Sara harbours such conflicted feelings towards him but until this revelation, it just feels like more stigma and the views jar a little in an otherwise sympathetic character. (I should perhaps declare an interest here. In my day job, I work in forensic mental health and I see combating stigma as part of my responsibility. Schizophrenia is as much a disease as the illnesses which effect the characters in this book and we need parity between mental and physical health. This case is somewhat different as the brother's character flaws are presumably independent of his condition but it's never quite clear that clear that Sara sees it like that).
Mahurin is particularly skilled at portraying the mixture of doubt and potentially futile hope her characters struggle with. According to her bio, the author is a Nurse Practitioner, and she's channelled her experiences into producing a powerful and believable story.
A beautifully written, tender and thought provoking story. Sara and Ben, have family issues and a history of failed relationships, leaving them untrusting and aloof. As a couple they slowly take down their barriers as they learn to trust and live again. Together they have the courage to confront their past and make new memories. "In accepting their fate and directing their attention to the real world as it moved moment to moment, they found inner peace, with each other and individually." The urgency of their love and need to live in the moment, free of past nightmares, is intensified as they met each other in an oncologist's waiting room. Like many others, my life has been turned upside down by the devastation of cancer, and I have a tendency to veer away from books, about the big, 'C.' But this book was about the deep connection between two people as they found the courage to be open, enjoy each moment as it came and make the journey worthwhile. The characters were likeable and believable, as they made mistakes as they overcame their doubts and fears. I felt Sara's pain when she thought she could never be desirable after her double mastectomy and realised she needed only one person to find her desirable to feel that way and let go of her inhibitions. This book is an affirmation of life and not the sad book I feared it might be. The message was clear, whether your journey is short or long, make it count. I highly recommend this book to anyone and it is one I will re-visit in the future. "...time isn't measured by the clock, but by the moments of shared love."
This is a bittersweet story of two people meeting in the oncologist’s office and how their relationship developed from there. Much more than a love story begun in the knowledge that life may be short with the need to take each day for what it could bring. The story itself is worth 5 stars, it’s realistic and believable and I loved the characters, but I took off half a star for some strange sentences and a few typos and formatting. I love books by this author and I think now I have read them all and will read every one she publishes. While this book is good, it’s not quite my favourite but I still recommend it as it’s a great story.
Paulette captures the essence of emotions in gripping story of how two cancer patients find each other and fall in love. It is a tale of highs and lows. It is the sense of the mixed emotions thats grasped me as a reader.
There are the emotions one would expect from being diagnosed with the most aggressive forms of cancer... fear of the unknown and the known, despair and hopelessness. But there are other feelings involved: the fear of being rejected, of not being wanted and the fear of losing one's womanhood or manhood.
Add to the mix unhealthy family relationships that cause even more stress and anxiety with a complete lack of empathy and even sympathy.
And then add...
The desire to be accepted and loved. The hope of new trials and medications, The effects of cancer and the after affects of treatment; The realization of success/failure and The determination to make the most of life despite the odds.
Well worth the read and all proceeds go to charity.
In our lifetime we are all touched in some way by cancer and for me, reading this book came at the right time. I could empathise with friends and families of the main characters as their story moved forward. This is where His Name was Ben isn't just a love story it's so much more. We see Sara's and Tom's journey, thoughts and feelings as two become one.
Paulette Mahurin shows how strength, hope and dreams are no different in illness than to those who are cancer free. She so eloquently and bravely shows a couple falling in love at a time where I would imagine a sufferer to be self centred and angry, not in His Name was Ben. This story is emotive and you can't help praying for them as you turn the pages.
Sometimes love can't conquer all, but who we meet and why when the chips are down can mean all the difference. The author, through her narrative, shows strength, compassion, love and hope. An excellent book and a must read. Thank you for sharing this poignant story Paulette Mahurin.