I was excited about this book when I started reading it. I even blogged about it. I loved the premise of it. But as I began making my way through the book, I found myself becoming too irritated with the author’s behavior to enjoy the book. I don’t fault her for being depressed or scared. I understand that it would be devastating to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But there’s a self-indulgence in her behavior that is exasperating.
A few examples: She’s a recovering prescription-pill addict. Yet she casually, even in the prologue, makes references to once again lying to her family about how many pills she taking to deal with her M.S.
Her first gift is a phone call to someone. I was a little like Really? I agree that reaching out to people can be an act of generosity, but a phone call to a friend is not a gift.
One of the next things that happens is that a friend of hers, Kim, an acupuncturist, stops by to pick her up to drive her to her office, to give her some free acupuncture. Kim does this regularly, it seems. It becomes clear that she and Kim aren’t super close friends, when she mentions that Kim speaks little English, so they communicate with “hand signals and acting things out.” Kim is on time, but the author is still in the bathtub when she arrives. Honestly, I cannot even imagine accepting so much from someone I didn’t know well, and if I did accept it, I would be ready when they got there to pick me up.
At this point, I considered that the book was more about taking gifts for 29 days than giving gifts for 29 days, but I still had plenty of hope for it, and I kept reading. Her gift this day was to give $5 to a break dancer on the street.
I got a little bit deeper into the book and hit another wall when her aunt showed up to clean her apartment. Her aunt lives 1500 miles away. Although the author has been able to visit friends, take walks, go to meetings, and even do a bit of rollerskating, she cannot clean her apartment. This chapter really, really bothered me. Her aunt “vigorously scours the grout” on the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. I just think this is WAY too much to ask of someone. And despite the references to being broke, I think perhaps she could have saved enough to have hired someone local to help her out with this if she needed some help, rather than asking her aunt to fly in and do this. This whole part blew my mind.
I began losing hope for this book shortly after this point and set it aside. I never did finish it. I wasn’t going to review it, because I feel bad being rude to someone whose heart is in the right place, and I understand that dealing with a degenerative disease and depression must be very horrible and immobilizing. But this book was not for me.