Planet Cancer by Heidi Schultz Adams and Christopher Schultz '95. Lyons Press, 2010. 272 pages. $19.95.
Each year, more than 70,000 young adults between the ages of fifteen and forty are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. This guidebook weaves together professional advice with first-person perspectives, including making sense of diagnoses and treatment options, issues related to sex and dating, fertility concerns, remedies for unpleasant side effects, and how to respond to nosy questions from well-meaning friends and acquaintances. As the Schultzes (brother and sister) write in the introduction, the book is intended to help young cancer patients and their families learn “from people who drew the short straw, just like you…. [Y]ou'll find yourself in a great position: in charge, of both your treatment and your life. Which is a good thing when cancer comes calling, that inconsiderate bitch.”
Healer: A Novel by Carol Wiley Cassella '78. Simon & Schuster, 2010. 291 pages. $25.
Anaesthesiologist and novelist Cassella's second book centers on the Boehning family—protagonist Claire, her biochemist husband, Addison, and their teenage daughter—who lose their financial security, social status, and multimillion-dollar home when Addison gambles (and loses) the family's fortunes on the success of an experimental cancer drug. Claire lands a job at a public-health clinic, where her friendship with a Nicaraguan immigrant leads her to confront the harsh realities of self-interested pharmaceutical companies and the dramatic inequalities of the American health-care system.
Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont by Georgann Eubanks '76. University of North Carolina Press, 2010. 448 pages. $37.50 hardcover, $19.95 paper.
In this second of three installments, Eubanks delves into the history of the twenty-eight counties that make up the Piedmont of North Carolina. Writers in this edition include James Applewhite '58, A.M. '60, Ph.D. '69; Fred Chappell '61, A.M. '64; Dale Volberg Reed '63; and Timothy Tyson Ph.D. '94. Along the way, Eubanks answers such questions as where humor writer David Sedaris got his first job washing dishes, what links Mark Twain to Mount Airy and Jack London to Stokes County, and why Charlotte has prompted more than its expected quota of mystery and crime novels. Eubanks is a principal in the Emmy-winning documentary-film production firm Minnow Media and was a founder of the North Carolina Writers' Network.
Disaster Preparedness by Heather Havrilesky '92. Riverhead Books, 2010. 256 pages. $25.95.
A Salon.com columnist, Havrilesky, the youngest child of the late economics professor Tom Havrilesky, writes candidly about her parents' spectacular fights, their wildly impractical advice on love, and their crumbling marriage; the enforced hysteria of high-school cheerleading camp and her masochistic indulgence of unrequited love; and the messy, imperfect way that people deal with the large and small disasters that life delivers.
Hope Unseen: The Story of the U.S. Army's First Blind Active-Duty Officer by Capt. Scott Smiley M.B.A. '09 with Doug Crandall. Simon & Schuster/ Howard Books, 2010. 256 pages. $24.99.
West Point graduate and Army officer Smiley was blinded in Iraq when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb thirty meters from Smiley's vehicle. In this memoir, Smiley recounts how his family and friends, his faith in God, and his determination have helped him recover. Since his injury, Smiley has climbed Mount Rainier, completed a triathlon, earned his business degree, and become the Army's first blind active-duty officer. He has been awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and received the Army's prestigious MacArthur Leadership Award.
My Father Said Yes: A White Pastor in Little Rock School Integration by Dunbar H. Ogden III A.M. '56. Vanderbilt University Press, 2008. 200 pages. $24.95.
On September 4, 1957, the group of African-American high-school students who became known as the Little Rock Nine walked up to the front of Central High to enroll in school. They were turned away by the National Guard, who had been called out by the Arkansas governor. The book explores the untold story of the Reverend Dunbar Ogden, a white Presbyterian pastor who led the students up to the lines of the National Guard, and who became a pro-integration leader in Little Rock's white community.
You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation by Susannah Gora '99. Crown Archetype, 2010. 384 pages. $26.
Gora examines the cultural and cinematic impact of director Hughes' films—including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire, Pretty in Pink, Say Anything, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off—through essays and interviews with key players such as Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, and John Cusack.