“Ten Years Later” by Hoda Kotb with Jane Lorenzini, c. 2013, Simon & Schuster, $25 ($28.99 Canada), 227 pages
Life is like a dinner party.
Think about it: you’re accompanied by strangers who don’t remain strangers for long. You’re given choices to sample but, though you’d like to try them all, there’s just so much room on your plate. And you never know which fork to take.
Imagine how your life would be different if this or that hadn’t happened. Then read the new book “Ten Years Later” by Hoda Kotb with Jane Lorenzini, where you’ll find tales of life-changing situations.
If you could meet the person you were a decade ago, what would you tell yourself? Kotb says that, in looking at her old journals, she remembers some tough times when she wondered if she’d ever be happy again. With the “benefit of hindsight,” she decided to see how others tackle life’s worst situations.
In our darkest hours, how can we know that things get better?
Amy Barnes had a lot to lose before that happened – 340 pounds, to be exact. But until she got to that point, Barnes endured domestic abuse and almost lost her life and her kids. Leaving behind her “heavier burdens,” she began to exercise until she found the strength, both mental and physical, to reach for happiness.
When you’re just twenty-something, you never figure you’ll have to battle a rare disease, but when Lindsay Beck was diagnosed with a “sinister” case of tongue cancer, she knew she had to fight. Not only did she do that, but she also fought for a normal life – then and in the future – for herself and for others.
Patrick Weiland was HIV positive. That fact would’ve been enough for anybody to deal with but, following the murder of his beloved sister, he hit the “lowest low:” his addiction to meth got out of hand. A successful TV producer, Patrick had to relearn “the business of living.”
Elite athlete Diane Van Deren had to make a not-so-difficult (but very hard) decision before she seized her passion back.
Ron Clifford lost his sister, his niece and a close friend in a horrific tragedy and almost lost his own life, too. And Roxanne Quimby, who is “hiding in plain sight,” doggedly changed the way we pucker up.
So you’d think that a book about people who triumphed over adversity would make its subjects into Super(wo)man, right? Not so, in “Ten Years Later.”
Authors Kotb and Lorenzini present heroism here, and I was heartened to see that each of the six profiles also include human failings, subtle and not. There was one person in here, matter of fact, that I knew I could never be friends with.
You might think that to be a negative, but I didn’t; I think it proves that these six people are just like everybody else.
This is an easy book to start. It’s even easier to enjoy, and I think it’s perfect for anyone who needs a boost. If that’s you, today, then “Ten Years Later” is something you’ll eat up.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been a professional book reviewer for more than a decade. She lives in Wisconsin.