Saturday, February 14, 2015

Introducing Everything You've Ever Done, a Memoir

Amelia Marie Whalen has spent three years writing a memoir called Everything You've Ever Done. On her website,, Amelia shares the book's table of contents as well as several excerpts from the book. She's in the process of seeking an agent and publisher, and her website is a great way to get an idea of her writing.

I don't want to oversimplify Amelia's 23-chapter memoir; it's hard for a summary to capture the richness of her experience. In short, the book is the story of her connection to her husband, Dave, and their process of dealing with his diagnosis with a fatal brain disease. As this excerpt of the book explains, Dave was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), an illness which destroys the myelin in the brain. His illness was untreatable, and later chapters of the book talk about Dave's death, such as this section about hospice care and his transition into the very last part of his life.

Amelia's writing has a calm and straightforward tone to it; she conveys sadness, love, and perhaps most of all the presence of Dave. For example, ALD made it impossible for Dave to speak, but Amelia describes how she could still hear his voice: "I still couldn’t see the subtleties of Dave's decline. He was so alive. He was so alive. He was so strong and so himself. By that time, I took hearing his voice for granted. Despite his muteness, I could hear his voice."

There is a lot of literature about hospice and end-of-life care, but much of it is from a more clinical perspective. Here is a book which looks with honesty and love at the process of illness, death, and loss. I think a lot of readers will value Amelia's personal perspective on her experiences.

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