By Natalie Yule Yeoman. Published by Cuba Press Limited, 2019. Reviewed by Emma Melville Riddell
What a pleasant surprise! When a dear aunt gave me this book, which is the story of the author's response to receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, I was a bit reluctant to read it. I'm a breast cancer survivor myself and I do get weary of the cancer being such a prime topic for discussion: How is my health now? And do I worry it might come back? Sometimes it seems it's what people find most interesting about me.
But I don't t define myself by having had cancer. Yes, it has been part of my life’s journey but not the sole focus. I wondered if A Maze of Grace would be like other "cancer books" I'd read — a bit maudlin or tainted with self-pity. Fortunately, not! Natalie writes with a beautiful sense of reality touched with gentle honesty. I so related to her reflections about faith, her determination to remain the same person and to treat everyone with kindness and respect. By page 80 I had to cyberstalk her, just to make sure she is still OK. I couldn't stand not knowing. The fact that the system let her down deeply saddens me, but her strength and resolve astound and humble me.
This book is a must for anyone caught up in the maelstrom that comes with a cancer diagnosis — but not only for breast cancer, and not only for the person diagnosed. Natalie's insights give much needed hope, the ability to rise above a crap hand dealt and shitty circumstances. She epitomises the best of us, suffering the worst circumstances. I take my hat off to her!
Tui Motu Magazine. Issue 248 May 2020