I hope you are all well and enjoying yourselves tonight. In the UK it is Guy Fawkes Day (commonly known as Fireworks night/Bonfire night). Just a few reminders to stay safe, if you have any concerns please voice them to a responsible adult and check up on your animals!
I was kindly offered the opportunity to read Antoinette Truglio Martin’s book “Hug everyone you know” in exchange for an honest review. After reading the brief, I knew that is was definitely a book I wanted to read!
About the book
Hug Everyone You Know is a memoir chronicling Antoinette’s first year with breast cancer treatment as a wimpy patient. Because of the diagnosis and her life-long squeamish ways, she did not believe herself brave enough to endure the protocols. She turned to her journaling habit to rant, rage, cry and practice the words she needed to say out loud. She also emailed her Everyone—the large, close-knit family and circle of beloved friends wanting to offer their support, especially those who were fighting breast cancer alongside her. The emails not only helped to keep her Everyone informed, they also gave cancer less of a presence in her life, since she wasn’t repeatedly updating people or saying the word “cancer” over and over. The practice of writing calmed her and also gave her space to focus on living: on the house that wasn’t selling, an exciting new job, daughters in college, and summer beach plans. Every email was signed-off with the reminder to “hug everyone you know.” Those emails and journal entries are at the heart of this memoir.”
Antoinette Truglio Martin is a life-long Long Islander, teacher, wife, mother, daughter, and friend. She is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer—a memoir chronicling her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. Personal experience essays and excerpts of her memoir were published in Bridges, Visible Ink, and The Southampton Review. Martin proudly received her MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University in 2016. Antoinette had also written the children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup (Albert Whitman and Company), and was a regular columnist for local periodicals Parent Connections (In a Family Way) and Fire Island Tide (Beach Bumming). Her blog, Stories Served Around The Table, tells family tales and life’s musings. She lives in her hometown of Sayville, New York with her husband, Matt, and is never far from her “Everyone” and the beaches she loves. Since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2012, she strives to not let cancer to dictate her life.
Why I wanted to read the book
My Gran recently passed away from the dreaded C word. Unfortunately for us she kept everything to herself so we didn’t really know what she was going through until we got the post-mortem back. We all had our suspicions about what was wrong with her but she never openly said that it was the issue, so since we got the real diagnosis
What did I think?
I absolutely loved this book (obviously not the part of someone having to deal with C). I love how open and honest Antoinette is about how she felt it as a slight inconvenience. At first, I thought that this was just part of the denial stage, you know when you sit there and say “that’ll never happen to me” and then it does so you go into shock mode.
I love the fact that she regularly sent emails to those who matter in her life and didn’t worry about those who were not that invested in her. Getting any kind of diagnosis can make you react in many ways, I’ve seen people keep it to theirselves till the very end (my Gran), I’ve seen people only tell those important to them and then you get the few who will tell anyone they pass, whether they know them or not. I guess it’s all part of helping yourself understand what’s happening to you.
I love the “hug everyone you know” at the end of each email. I think this is an act that is often so overlooked but holds so much emotion and motive behind it. We overlook the simplest of things until we get sick and then we start to appreciate them again.
I saw the line “You can’t catch me!” as a symbolic gesture to the stage four cancer. Stage four means that the cancer is spreading, it means that now your body has more then one place to try and fight without being infected by it too. I don’t know if Antoinette saw her words in that way or was literally just being a care free fifty seven year old woman who was racing across the water, either way, they really struck me.
Would you read again?
As much as I loved this book, I don’t think I would read it again, simply because I shed a lot of tears while reading it. I don’t know if it was because I’m still grieving the loss of my Gran and reading someone else’s encounter of Cancer just made me overthink or if it’s down to something else completely. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back to it.
Would you recommend?
Absolutely without a doubt I would recommend it. Antoinette is a wonderful writer and I would share her book with friends and family, I’ve even recommended this to my library.