August 25, 2010

Review: Finding Frances by Janice M. Van Dyck

Is there such a thing as a good death? Frances Baldwin is dying and instead of fearing the end, she welcomes death as a consequence of her terminal condition. Frances regards any marginally effective medical intervention as interfering with life s natural process. This quality of life discussion is at the heart of author Janice Van Dyck's family drama, Finding Frances. The novel examines the moral and ethical constraints imposed by modern medicine as a family faces end-of-life decisions. Frances asks her son, William, a medical school drop-out, to help her deal with his own lawyer brother Randy, his divorced sister Sugar, and father-in-denial Bill. William is faced with the demanding and complex task of mediating the divergent opinions of each family member and the medical establishment in an attempt to honor his mother s desire to have a peaceful death. Finding Frances brings into focus the larger cultural, ethical, and legal issues confronting everyone today in this age of patients rights versus institutionalized healthcare. Janice Van Dyck confronts these difficult issues with a deft hand in bringing out the subtleties of all of the characters points of view. The story is a tribute to human dignity exemplified by an exceptional and inspirational woman, who in the author s words, "...died as she lived with dignity and occasional flashes of brilliance and hilarity." Finding Frances is a novel based on actual events.

I normally write really, really short reviews, but that is going to be impossible for this book.  Personally, I don't want to live to be a hundred.  I think it's great that medicine and doctor's knowledge has given so many the ability to live a longer life.  At the same time though, I think that the patient should be the one to make the decision to stay alive or leave this world with dignity.  I am in my right mind at this moment and if something happens to me, I don't want to be kept on life support or have a feeding tube for a long period of time.  I would rather just pass on.  I don't want to put my family through that.  The women in my family live forever it seems like and I've watched them lose their mind, forget who we are and they were unable to do anything on their own.  I don't want that for myself.  If I'm not myself or if I can't even go to the bathroom on my own, let me go.  I think that I should have the right to put that wish in writing and doctors should have to abide by it, just like with DNR's.  If I end up not knowing who my family is or even who I am, I would much rather a doctor give me a shot and allow me to have a peaceful death without pain.  That way my family could begin going on with their lives.  The thing I find most ironic is that people will say that they had to "put their dog down" because it was so sick and would be miserable.  Why shouldn't humans have the same option? 

Anyway, about the book...  You will be changed after reading this.  It's emotionally exhausting but with this topic, it has to be.  It's a heavy load and you can't pick this book up and think you're going to be able to get through it without a lot of deep thought.  It's a great book and I'm really glad I read it.

Winston-Higgins Press, LLC
April 2010
296 pages
$25.00 US

Visit Janice's website
Read an excerpt

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free from PR by the Book. All opinions expressed are 100% mine. If you purchase a book using my Amazon or Barnes and Noble link, I will receive a small portion of the purchase price.

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like the story of my life for the past several months. My mom had her hip replaced at age 88. the doctor's tried to talk her out of it but she was in so much pain she insisted. She knew the possibilities of not coming out of it. It was mt responsibility to convince the others in the family that she had the right to make the decision to let her go and just keep her comfortable. I think it was easier on me because I have been a nurse forever. She did pass away about 9-10 weeks after the surgery and very peacefully. It was hardest because she was so mentally with it until she died. It would be horrible to live thinking about how incapacitated you were and not being able to do anything about it.

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