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Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers, by Elizabeth Edwards


Saving Graces

How often do we look at high profile individuals and assume that they live in nearly perfect worlds with fewer of the problems than ordinary people face? Elizabeth Edwards appeared before the American public during her husband's 2004 vice-presidential campaign as a charming, unpretentious, intelligent woman. It was obvious that she had a happy marriage to a loving, handsome, successful husband, a beautiful adult daughter and two charming tow-headed youngsters. What was not obvious was that she was mourning the death of a teenage son and that she had breast cancer. Saving Graces is Elizabeth's account of how she has dealt with joy and heartache and is an inspiration to anyone who has ever experienced loss of any kind.

Through Elizabeth's strong, but gentle voice we learn of a girl growing up in a military family and of the support she garnered from the military community. As a parent, she relied on various groups of friends and associates to meet the challenges of motherhood, but it wasn't until her son, Wade, was killed in a car accident that she learned true value of the support of strangers as well as friends. Her writing is so honest and direct that it's hard to remember that Wade is not some boy down the street whom we've known forever. Although she suspected in the final days of the 2004 presidential campaign that the lump in her breast was cancerous, she didn't receive confirmation until the day after the election. Since then she has waged an aggressive battle to become and remain cancer-free. Not only has she relied on the support of friends and strangers, she has been a very visible advocate for early detection in breast cancer, and she has emerged as a leader in the community of those affected by breast cancer.

This audio book is very easy to listen to because it's like listening to a friend tell personal anecdotes. Her insider's view of Senate, presidential and vice-presidential campaigns is enlightening and fascinating. Elizabeth is able to laugh at herself as she describes showing up for a Senate wives' gardening project in what she'd wear to garden-overalls-only to find the veteran wives in suits. She tells of helping her husband campaign first for president and then accompanying him after he accepted John Kerry's invitation to be his running mate. Party politics are a very insignificant factor in this memoir, because the listener gets the impression that all candidates' spouses experience the same kinds of campaign nightmares and triumphs. I recommend this informative, inspirational book to everyone, no matter how you voted or plan to vote.

Ruth Mormon

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