[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Life works in mysterious ways.
Four years ago I became known as the girl with cancer.
I refuse to cry.
And I refuse to give in.
A relationship with a man is the last thing I’m looking for right now, but one night with Parker changes everything. He is persistent, and he knows what he wants. Me.
He doesn’t treat me like I’m fragile.
But he doesn’t know, and I’m not ready to tell him.
What if it changes everything?
Tragedy found me when I was seventeen.
Love found me when I was twenty-one.
My name is Aundrea McCall, and this is my journey.[/quote]
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Well, hello there ugly cry. It’s me again, Lauren…
It has been a while since I’ve suffered from a good ol’ book hangover. What’s Left of Me did me in. Wow. More like – WOW! THIS is what a debut novel should be. Amanda Maxlyn gutted me. She wrapped up my heart in her words and just shattered it in the most deliciously painful way possible.
I’m having a very hard time collecting myself enough to write this review…
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Cancer.
It can break you. Or it can make you stronger. I choose stronger.
I choose survival.[/quote]
I think what hits me hardest is knowing that just like Aundrea, there are people around the world fighting to simply exist. Battling with tiny mutated cells – things you can’t even see with the naked eye – that are leaving them weak, fearful and in excruciating pain. My grandmother used to say, “If money can fix it, don’t worry about it.” It took me years to understand just exactly what she was talking about. So often we take things like health, love and friendship for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. These are things that money can’t buy. Money can’t buy a positive attitude, happiness, love, forgiveness (well…), honesty, a healthy body. Those are things we should concern ourselves with. Not what brand of car we’re driving, if we have the latest smart phone, or the size of our homes. What’s Left of Me is a powerful reminder to live life to the fullest, to never give up and to believe in the power of love.
Aundrea McCall is probably one of the strongest and most brave characters I’ve had the privilege to read. At the young age of 21 she’s already waged two very intense battles with Hodgkin’s disease (a form of lymphoma), and is now preparing to fight for her life once again. All she wants is for people to see her, not the cancer that has invaded her body. She is sick, but that sickness doesn’t define her. It’s not what makes her and she won’t let it be what breaks her.
Aundrea’s chemo treatments and future bone marrow transplant need to take place in Rochester, causing her to move in with her sister and brother-in-law. When a night of clubbing turns into a one night stand, Aundrea never expects to see Parker again; imagine her surprise when he shows up at her sister’s house for dinner the next evening. Awkward, right? How exactly do you tell your brother-in-law that you just had a one night stand with the man he’s taken on as a partner in his veterinary clinic? Obviously, you don’t! Yikes. Parker wants more than one night, he wants everything with Aundrea. With a whole lot of patience and persistence he may have a chance.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]How do you tell the man who you are falling in love with that you don’t want to be a wife or have a family because you’re biggest fear is leaving them alone? That I can’t think of the thought of leaving my husband a widow, or my kids motherless.[/quote]
It’s tough to describe the emotions that Amanda’s words inflict. This book is rough. It’s rough and real and just incredible. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. Throughout the entire story I just wanted to take Aundrea’s pain away. To hold her while she cried and shave my head right along with her as her hair began to thin. It’s easy to see why Aundrea would want to keep her sickness a secret from Parker. He was the one person to see HER, not the cancer. I, too would be afraid that he would look at me different. Maybe even tuck tale and run. Why would someone want to take on a relationship with someone who may not live another year? Sadly, it would be easier to walk away…
Well, he is what every man SHOULD be. He’s intelligent, well educated, sexy as sin, and has a heart as big as Texas. He’s honest and loyal. Parker is the ultimate catch and he wants Aundrea. All of her. Every broken piece. *sigh*. I did find it a little strange that he doesn’t catch on to her illness sooner. I am no expert on wigs, but it’s usually pretty easy to pick one out. I’d think it would be even easier if you were up close and personal with them. In intimate moments you get pretty close to your partner… Then again, what man would want to think that the woman they’re falling for is hiding some horrific illness?
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Someone once told me that it’s not about whether there is life after you die, but whether you’re alive before you die. I didn’t believe I could ever feel alive. Not until Parker.[/quote]
The epilogue will bring out your violent side. You will find yourself wishing that you could flick Ms. Maxlyn in between the eyes. Sit tight. The feeling will pass… I promise.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]We all have an end date. We know we’re going to die. The only question is when. It’s the not knowing – or the someday – that makes it easy to not think about. It’s a thought that gets thrown in the back of our minds. But when you’re told your end is a lot sooner than you ever imagined, it makes everything clear. Life becomes clearer.[/quote]
Most of the books I read are purely for fun. What’s Left of Me started out that way but morphed into something more. It was a reminder – to live, to love. If I were to make a list of my top 10 books of 2013, this book would definitely be on it. Please run, skip, jump, one click – whatever you need to do to get this book, do it! And don’t forget the tissues.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am the mother of two little boys, married to the love of my life, and living in one of the smallest towns in Minnesota. When I’m not chasing or cleaning up after my boys (yes, all three), I can be found writing or snuggled up with my kindle, a glass of wine, and spending time with my fictional friends and family.