review, U.S.

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock

alice oliverToday’s posts are about the latest batch of heavy-themed books I’ve read. First up is Alice & Oliver, a brutal and engrossing read about a young mother and fashion designer diagnosed with leukemia when her daughter was about 6 months old.  I have to psych myself up to read a book like this, or, say, watch a movie like Dead Man Walking, and ultimately I’m glad I read this but I’m not sure I’d read it again. I’m not sure I could take it, you know.

Anyway, Alice & Oliver is a cancer story that goes in depth into the treatment process/ protocol about 20 years ago. The sections of the book are divided into treatment steps as well as into Alice’s meditative steps as she copes with treatment and the prospect of dying. It’s also a story about Alice and Oliver’s relationship, their history in New York City, and the status of their relationship during many months of cancer treatment. Looking back at their pasts and Oliver’s tech start-up company are the only respites from the hard stuff in their story (there’s not a lot of black comedy), but somehow it was a fast read. I was drawn to the story because I don’t know the ins and outs of aggressive cancer treatments and because the main characters were so sympathetic. And sometimes I want to read something that will make me weep, and I was definitely a mess by the end of the book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.

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4 thoughts on “Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock”

  1. I know what you mean, Rebecca, about books that are serious – even very heavy – but that you’re still glad you read. In those cases, I think a really solid plot is especially important, so there’s a solid motivation for staying with the story.

  2. Oh, I don’t think I could read this. Dealt with my own tragedy years ago, and I avoid this topic. Knowing of real mothers with young children and their battles with cancer are so tragic, unless they beat it. My father’s mother died at 36 of breast cancer in 1930, leaving five children. He could never talk about it.

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