Discussion #1: Reconstructing Natalie

Yes, this book is completely unputdownable, but we’ll take a breather anyway and open our first discussion for Reconstructing Natalie with these questions:

  • Natalie is only 27-years-old when she’s diagnosed with breast cancer. Do you think her age and the fact that she isn’t married make that frightening diagnosis even more difficult? Do you think it would be easier to hear this if you were a married woman in your 50s or 60s?
  • Some people pull away from or abandon Natalie once she tells them she has breast cancer. Have you ever had a friend leave or abandon you during a difficult time?
  • Natalie makes the choice to have a prophylactic mastectomy so that she won’t have to live in fear of her cancer recurring in the non-cancerous breast. Did that seem like a drastic step to you? Would you consider taking such a step if you had a similar diagnosis?
  • Some people at Natalie’s church say thoughtless things to her when she’s first diagnosed. Do you think they were being mean or just clueless? Have you ever had someone at church or work say something insensitive to you when you were going through a trying time? How did you handle it?
  • What are your thoughts on Laura Jensen Walker’s writing style? Are you finding yourself interested in reading more of her novels? Why or why not?

No holds barred – juicy stuff completely welcome!

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17 Responses to Discussion #1: Reconstructing Natalie

  1. * Natalie is only 27-years-old when she’s diagnosed with breast cancer. Do you think her age and the fact that she isn’t married make that frightening diagnosis even more difficult? Do you think it would be easier to hear this if you were a married woman in your 50s or 60s?
    Yes and no. She’s young and with strong ties to her parents and friends to help her through the difficult time. I really don’t think age would make hearing about the frightening diagnosis easier for anyone.

    * Some people pull away from or abandon Natalie once she tells them she has breast cancer. Have you ever had a friend leave or abandon you during a difficult time?
    While it’s still hard to talk about, I have to admit that ‘yes’ I had friends and family abandon me during the hardest time of my life. I left home while in college to get away from an abusive stepfather, and my mother followed. Soon after, she remarried, moved to another state and left me tied to an expensive apartment lease and mounting college bills. Not able to afford food, clothing, health care, transportation, etc., I managed to get myself through a difficult time alone (and with God’s help through prayers, of course!) by working multiple jobs between school hours. That is a time in my life that I will never forget, and still can’t believe I actually made it through that tough time. Forgive, yes – forget, no.

    * Natalie makes the choice to have a prophylactic mastectomy so that she won’t have to live in fear of her cancer recurring in the non-cancerous breast. Did that seem like a drastic step to you? Would you consider taking such a step if you had a similar diagnosis?
    It did seem like a drastic step, but one that I would likely consider if I were in her shoes. Why continue life in fear, knowing the continuation may/may not occur in the future?

    * Some people at Natalie’s church say thoughtless things to her when she’s first diagnosed. Do you think they were being mean or just clueless? Have you ever had someone at church or work say something insensitive to you when you were going through a trying time? How did you handle it?
    They were clueless. This question really hit home for me, because I was once employed as the IT person at my church and had a mean administrator confront me in the hallway of the parish school when she felt my work was not up to her expectations. Little did she know, the Director of Religious Education overheard the confrontation and brought it to the attention of the head pastor who took matters into his own hands. The mean administrator got a taste of her own medicine and then some!

    * What are your thoughts on Laura Jensen Walker’s writing style? Are you finding yourself interested in reading more of her novels? Why or why not?
    The author’s voice in Natalie is right on and keeps me turning those pages – I can almost feel her pain as she struggles through cancer treatment. And yes, I’ve been reading up on some of her other book summaries and finding myself interested in ‘Dreaming in Black & White’, ‘Dreaming in Technicolor’ and ‘Thanks for the Mammogram’.

  2. maksbestfriend says:

    • Natalie is only 27-years-old when she’s diagnosed with breast cancer. Do you think her age and the fact that she isn’t married make that frightening diagnosis even more difficult? Do you think it would be easier to hear this if you were a married woman in your 50s or 60s?

    I think that she is young make the diagnosis difficult, but I have seen on our local news that there is now a young girl, 10-11, who has breast cancer. Here is the link to the story: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/OnCallPlusBreastCancerNews/story?id=7619276&page=1. I don’t know if a diagnosis would be any easier to take at any age. I am about to get my mammogram on Thursday, so of course, I am just a wee bit more nervous since we are reading this book.

    • Some people pull away from or abandon Natalie once she tells them she has breast cancer. Have you ever had a friend leave or abandon you during a difficult time?

    Oh, I think that is human nature. It comes down to nature or nurture. I think that some people are your friends for the long haul and some are only there as long as the going doesn’t get too tough for them. When I went through my divorce, I lost a lot of people that I thought were friends. It was hard at the time, but I can see why people felt they had to choose sides.

    • Natalie makes the choice to have a prophylactic mastectomy so that she won’t have to live in fear of her cancer recurring in the non-cancerous breast. Did that seem like a drastic step to you? Would you consider taking such a step if you had a similar diagnosis?

    Not such a drastic step when she was told that she had the chance of it coming back. I would do it in a heartbeat. I told Mitch that if I got a breast cancer diagnosis, I would have them take both anyway. I really would not want to go through it twice if it can be avoided.

    • Some people at Natalie’s church say thoughtless things to her when she’s first diagnosed. Do you think they were being mean or just clueless? Have you ever had someone at church or work say something insensitive to you when you were going through a trying time? How did you handle it?
    I don’t think that when people say it, they are thinking they are being insensitive. I think sometimes they don’t think. I wonder if the self-censor function that I thought that we all got when we got older would keep us from being so blunt, or so insensitive. But I wonder if it isn’t human nature to say something. Something like, we have to show some interest in the person, and even if we don’t know what to say, say anything, and hope that it comes out the right way.

    • What are your thoughts on Laura Jensen Walker’s writing style? Are you finding yourself interested in reading more of her novels? Why or why not?

    I am definitely liking her style. It is honest, open, and not sugar coating the side effects and ramifications of breast cancer. I love the interactions that she is weaving with family and friends and people she comes into contact with in the course of her journey. I would definitely read another one of her works.

  3. Such a brave 10-year-old in that news story you linked here, @maksbestfriend. I never thought that was even possible at such a young age. You’ll have to share your experience with the mammogram – mine will be in 11 short months.

  4. maksbestfriend says:

    Look what I just ordered on Paperback Swap!

    Love Handles for the Romantically Impaired
    Author: Laura Jensen Walker

  5. Hey, I like the looks of that one! I’ll put in a request for it. 🙂

  6. maksbestfriend says:

    We haven’t gone wrong yet with certain authors. I think that this author is one of them to add to the list!

  7. Just finished ch 27. This is quite the amazing book! Where are you, @maksbestfriend?

  8. maksbestfriend says:

    Guess what? I am almost to chapter 30! Yes this is a great book. And why aren’t you just calling me Becca? Hee hee!

  9. @Becca/maksbestfriend – Total habit! 😉

  10. maksbestfriend says:

    Hey at least you are happy! Hubs just got home and told me has a 6 a.m. meeting in the morning on the phone and another at 6 p.m. and oh yeah let’s throw that mammogram in there at 10:15 my time tomorrow morning. Not a stressful day, nope! 😉

  11. Whoa – seriously stressful day ahead for you. Hopefully this book will cheer you up? It’s definitely putting me in a happy (albeit sleepy after getting up at 5:45 a.m. all week) place, especially now that Nat is over the chemo. That was so hard to read, but still drew me in further. Now if she’ll only wake up and smell the coffee… ahem, hello? Can you say Andy’s THE MAN for her???

  12. maksbestfriend says:

    Gee, do you think? 😉

    And oh yeah, for next year, when you get a mammogram, no deoderant and no powder or perfumes of any kind. I am going to stick some deoderant in my bag for when I am done. Ugh. I can’t get past starting the day without it. But the machine gets right up into your arm pit area so they don’t want the interference.

  13. Thanks for the words of wisdom! I’ll be sneaking mine in with me, too. How do the technicians handle the smell? Saints. Complete saints, those people.

  14. I’ll be finishing this book today, perfect timing after Mr. Brown Truck Man just delivered The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. We’ll be reading that next!

  15. maksbestfriend says:

    I should be finishing the book today, too. I haven’t got the book yet, awaiting it in my mail. Do you want to read “The Help” if I don’t get it today or tomorrow?

  16. Works for me! Just keep me posted and we’ll go from there.

  17. maksbestfriend says:

    No book in the mail today, but I did get my copy of “The Kept Woman” by Susan Donovan!

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