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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
320 pages
Jun 2006
WestBow Press

Reconstructing Natalie

by Laura Jensen Walker

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Review:

Twenty-seven year-old Natalie Moore seemed to have it all: a good-paying job, a handsome boyfriend, a great relationship with her parents, a solid church, two wonderful best friends, and a homey cottage all to herself (even if it was in her parentsí backyard). All this changed after Natalie accidentally discovered a small lump on her left breast. Learning the lump is cancerous, Natalieís life changes drastically as she faces the painful reality of life with cancer. The support of family, friends, and fellow breast cancer warriors leads Natalie to take risks and uncover new loves and passions in her life.

Laura Jensen Walker, a breast cancer survivor herself, takes readers through Natalieís daily battle emotionally, physically, and spiritually against this life-altering disease in Reconstructing Natalie. Told from Natalieís perspective, the reader gains a sense of what itís really like living with breast cancer. Walker portrays Natalie in a way that readers can sympathize with her, feeling her pain, frustration, joy, and sorrow throughout her cancer journey.

In order to prevent the cancer from spreading, Natalie decides to have a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery and chemotherapy. For a currently-single woman already sensitive about her breasts, Natalie wonders if sheíll ever have a love life again once she becomes breast-less and bald. With the constant love and support of those around her, especially her childhood friend Andy, Natalie learns that her worth does not depend on her breasts or any of her physical attributes.

Natalie is a strong character with multiple dimensions and a sense of humor. As the narrator, she is honest and genuine about her emotions in every situation. Some Christians might be slightly offended when, after her diagnosis, Natalie decides against telling a girl at her office that sheís showing too much cleavage by wearing low-neck shirt. Natalie thought, She might as well enjoy her boobs while she can. This kind of reaction from a woman who once scolded this same office assistant for dressing immodestly reveals the candid and real thoughts of a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer. Even a Christian woman is still a woman who is influenced by societyís standards of beauty. Sheís not immune to having these kinds of thoughts. Natalieís not perfect by any means, which humanizes her and makes her someone all women can relate to.

Jensenís descriptions and characterization of minor characters such as Jillian, Merritt, Andy, and Josh are detailed and consistent. The reader feels as though she really knows these characters and their personalities. At times, it seems as though Jensen gives excessive detail to character development. In one scene, she is showing the obsession Natalie, Jillian, and Merritt have with the TV show Friends. She has the three women arguing over what happened in an episode for quite some time, giving details specific to the show that arenít necessary for the novel or for character development. Jensen also devotes a portion of the book solely to Natalieís cancer journal entries. While itís beneficial to read some of Natalieís entries, the same thing happens in every entry, which makes that section less interesting to read. The romantic connection between Andy and Natalie unfolds gradually, but becomes slightly unrealistic when they confess their love to one another and the next minute Andyís asking for Natalieís hand in marriage. This could seem possible considering their lifelong friendship, but as a reader, I didnít expect the engagement to come so soon. There arenít any scenes of Natalie and Andyís wedding either, so thatís slightly disappointing for those hopeless romantics out there.

This novel is a captivating page-turner, bringing you into the life and reality of a breast cancer survivor. The emotions and thoughts of the narrator are real, making it so you canít help but root for Natalie as she battles the disease. If you are a woman looking to relate to a genuine female character in a novel that touches all emotions, culminating into a story of hope, then this novel is for you. Ė Christy Wong, Christian Book Previews.com

Book Jacket:

Natalie Moore is about to lose what little cleavage she had.

She'll shave her head, leave her church, fall for a man in scrubs, learn to tap, and flash a roomful of women.

Natalie needs to know with or without her breasts she is more than the sum of her parts