All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg
Published by Wm Morrow Paperbacks ISBN 978-0-06-222077-6
Trade paperback, 288 pages
When I heard that Mike "Greeny" Greenberg wrote a book, I figured it would be a sports book. Then I heard it was a novel, so I thought, 'oh, a novel about sports.' Then I read the description- a novel about three women dealing with breast cancer. Wait, what?
Greenberg had a friend who had breast cancer, and he was amazed that her three best friends, one of whom was his wife, surrounded this woman with constant love and never left her side. They went to her doctor appointments, her chemo treatments; they were with her at all times.
This so impressed him, because he didn't think that men would be so present for their male friends. His friend succumbed to her cancer, and he wrote a novel about three women who each get a diagnosis of breast cancer. The proceeds from this novel go to the V Foundation in his friend's name to aid in cancer research. (The V Foundation is named after famed North Carolina State University coach Jim Valvano who lost his battle with cancer at age 46.)
I can't believe a man wrote All You Could Ask For. Greenberg captures the voices of these three very different women so incredibly well, he must eavesdrop on women often. And take notes.
Samantha is newly married to an older man and on her honeymoon in Hawaii. She is blissfully happy, ready to start her new life when she finds a photo of a naked woman on her husband's laptop.
Katherine has just turned forty, a hard-charging career woman whose last serious relationship ended badly many years ago. Now the most important man in her life is her faithful driver Maurice. Her administrative assistant has set her up on a blind date with a handsome, eligible man- who happens to be twenty years older than her. How old does she think Katherine is anyway?
Brooke is happily married to Scott, and mom to two children, living in the suburbs, trying to figure out what to get her husband for his birthday. She is a good wife, a good mom and likes her life.
The first half of the book sets up each of these three interesting women's lives, all facing different daily challenges- work, home, family, loneliness. We become invested in them, and compare our lives to theirs.
Then they each get a diagnosis of breast cancer. Each woman reacts differently, and the reader is left to ponder how they deal with her individual diagnosis. The women do not interact with each other in the first half of the book, but they later meet on breast cancer message boards and we are able read their messages to each other, and see their relationships develop.
I had to admit I was skeptical about a novel some would call "chick-lit" about breast cancer written by a male ESPN host, but Greenberg does a terrific job here. I wanted to know more about these women's lives, and I found their reactions to their illnesses fascinating.
They each respond differently, and the way one woman deals with it will probably cause some lively discussions in book clubs, for which this novel would make a good choice. It definitely made me think about how I would react, and upon reflection, it also made me try to be less judgmental of other women and the choices they make in the lives.
rating 4 of 5
Your book club can win a Skype with Mike Greenberg here.