Staying Alive is the beautifully wrought memoir of three generations of family life, beginning in depression-era Paterson, New Jersey, where the three Smith sisters-Janet Reibstein's mother and two aunts-and their close-knit extended, Jewish family settle in the New World. Over fifty years, we see Janet's relatives grow into the professionally successful, ethnically mixed family typical in America today. What makes it atypical is the specter of breast cancer that hangs like a dark cloud over all the women in the family. It claims her two aunts first, then her mother, then a cousin. Finally Janet faces a far-reaching decision: to break the pattern and undergo a preemptive mastectomy.
This family portrait is also a palimpsest of the history of the disease. We see how support systems and awareness have grown over the years and how advances in research give women fighting breast cancer a higher survival rate and more humane treatments than the dark years of the Smith girls' early struggles.
Staying Alive is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming, a brilliant rendering of the emotional and psychological shadows cast on both the afflicted and the family members who support them. It is a story of sisters, of mothers and daughters, and also the men who loved them. In the end we are inspired by the extraordinary strength of these women, by their will to fight the disease, and the power of love in survival.
|Book:||Staying Alive: A Family Memoir|
|Author:||Janet Reibstein Karen Rinaldi(Editor)|
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