cover image No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear)

No Cure for Being Human: (And Other Truths I Need to Hear)

Kate Bowler. Random House, $27 (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-23077-0

In heartbreaking essays, Bowler (Everything Happens for a Reason) recounts lessons learned after being diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at the age of 35. An associate professor at Duke Divinity School, she thought that everyone had limitless choices before receiving the grim diagnosis that pegged her survival odds at 14%: “Hope for the future feels like a kind of arsenic that needs to be carefully administered, or it can poison the sacred work of living in the present.” While mourning the loss of a future with her husband and two-year-old son, Bowler enrolled in a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy drug, and, miraculously, was one of 3% of patients to successfully respond to it. After searching her whole life for a “formula for how to live,” she writes, “cancer treatment had provided the clearest one of all.” Bowler’s strong faith is present throughout, though the writing, refreshingly, never feels overtly religious. More than anything, her convictions underscore the importance of living life on one’s own terms. “Someday... God will draw us into the eternal moment where there will be no suffering,” she writes. “In the meantime, we are stuck with our beautiful, terrible finitude.” Those in need of a wake-up call will find it in this breathtaking narrative. Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher & Co. (Sept.)