Book Review: This Star Won't Go Out

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl

Esther (Persian for "star") Earl was a bright and talented, but very normal teenage girl who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 12. Despite her declining health, she lived a hope-filled and generous life focused on loving and caring for others. She was a cheerful, positive and encouraging daughter, sister and friend. She passed away in 2010 at the age of 16, but she left her mark on this world despite leaving it much too soon.

This unique memoir is a collection of her journals, stories, letters, and sketches, with photographs, and essays written by her family and friends to help tell her story.

Even though this book is aimed at young adult readers, I am 51 years old, and I loved it! I am living with terminal cancer myself, and I wish I could do it with even half of the grace that Esther possessed. Even with our age differences, I could relate to so much of Esther's thoughts and feelings about living with terminal illness, and the roller coaster of emotions that it puts you through.

There are very sad moments in this book, of course, but overall, it's a very joyous book at the same time, a celebration of her life, a life well lived in such a short time; not for her accomplishments, but for how she cared for and loved others. Esther readily admits her flaws also, which makes you love her even more, because she was human.

I love this quote from the introduction to her story by author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars): "And most of all, she was a person, complete and complex. We have a habit of imagining the dying as fundamentally other from well. We hold them up as heroes and imagine they have reserves of strength forbidden to the rest of us. We tell ourselves that we will be inspired through the stories of their suffering- we will learn to be grateful for every day, or learn to be more empathetic, or whatever. These responses, while certainly well-intentioned, ultimately dehumanize the dying: Esther was uncommon not because she was sick, but because she was Esther, and she did not exist so that the rest of us could learn Important Lessons about Life."
I totally feel the same way, but I never knew how to put it into words, and I thank John Green for doing so. I also thank her friends and family for sharing their
"Star" with the rest of us.

(I'm sorry if this review is a long one, but this book just resonates with me so much!). I also loved reading about Esther's online community of friends, and how they were all there for her. I am very lucky also to have many wonderful online friends, and they are just as "real" as IRL (in real life) friends, even though a former friend of mine once told me they were not. And on that note, I have to quote John Green just one more time:
“I dislike the phrase 'Internet friends,' because it implies that people you know online aren't really your friends, that somehow the friendship is less real or meaningful to you because it happens through Skype or text messages. The measure of a friendship is not its physicality but its significance. Good friendships, online or off, urge us toward empathy; they give us comfort and also pull us out the prisons of our selves."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Dear Shari.
    This sounds like such an moving read...thank you very much for sharing this review.
    It can be comforting to read someone else's experience about the same sort of situation and know all one's thoughts and feelings are very normal and understandable, and to feel a kinship with such other people.
    I can't help but think of my Spark friends as very real and extra special because of all the things shared along the way, too. You, for one, are very precious to me, my dear friend!
    Hugs, love and blessings always, Nattacia

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    1829 days ago
    I loved this blog. I am going to look for this book. Your review was fantastic!!! God bless you , my friend!
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    1832 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4212235
    I so totally agree with what you say about "internet friends". For me, someone that I shy and don't have many friends that live close by, my internet friends and RIL are both important.
    I liked the movie" Fault In Our Stars" and yes though it was sad in places, it also show someone living with a terminal disease, with such grace and yes courage. I have said it before I admire you for your strength and courage, though those are not the words I was searching for.

    I watch movies like those and read books with such topics, not necessarily to learn how to live m life but to feel some of the persons expriences, and to feel the empathy.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I have been looking for the book "Fault In Our Stars but it is in such demand now. I know it is aimed for a younger audience, but I am not discriminating in the genre of my books, age, etc.

    I hope all goes well for you tomorrow.
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    1832 days ago
    1832 days ago
    Sounds like a wonderful book and the quotes are great.
    1832 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Thank you for sharing this book and more of you with your SP friends.

    1832 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    I worked in oncology for years when I was a lot younger than I am now. It was my favorite floor in the hospital. The first time was an all-male floor and I would sit and listen for hours to them as they related their feelings. I also read Elizabeth Kuebler Ross books. I learned a lot about life from death and dying. From those who lived the death and dying. IT is real, it is life and it is beautiful to know those who will share with you.
    I feel privileged to have been their friends. Not for anything special that they were, but for them being them, to me..

    Shari, you are absolutely right about that book. Thank you so much for sharing this blog with us.
    1832 days ago
    Thanks for sharing Shari.I like calling Spark Friends "Family"Hugs,blessings
    and prayers! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1832 days ago
    Thanks so much for sharing about this inspirational book! I love to read, and finding a book like this is like finding a gold nugget!
    1832 days ago
    Thanks for the book review. Feel free to quote John Green, all day long.
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    PS- I like the term- Sparks Friend emoticon
    1832 days ago
    Beautiful recommendation - I will have to read it
    1832 days ago
    What a beautiful quote and tribute to Esther. Your review is beautiful, and you are facing your time every bit as well as Esther did. You are amazing, and your friends her all feel the same way. You have taught us so much about life, it's ups and downs, your struggles and decisions, and yet you remain caring, kind and loving towards others. You, my emoticon , are Grace, herself. Your Star will never stop shining. emoticon
    1832 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/5/2015 9:50:48 AM
    I love that quote. And will look for the book; thanks for this review.
    1832 days ago
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