This memoir by Eva Hagberg Fisher reflects on her lonely upbringing with a disconnected mother, several stepfathers, and years in boarding schools, and how it affected her difficulties connecting with others as an adult. When a mass in her brain ruptured at age 30, she was forced to allow others into her life. Of particular importance was a friendship with an older woman named Allison, who was battling cancer herself. Allison's friendship taught Eva how to let others love her, without needing to pay them back with anything but acceptance and love. She further learned this when she began suffering from symptoms of something that no one could seem to diagnose.
I found this memoir a bit uneven; there were parts in the first half when the writing put me off and I considered putting it down. But Fisher found her groove when writing about her illnesses and I ultimately became invested in her story--particularly when she dealt with her invisible illness, which I find to be a fascinating and terrible thing that so many people contend with daily. Their suffering is often intangible--difficult to define, sometimes undiagnosable, and hard for people to relate to--which can leave them suffering in silence and wondering if it's all in their head. Fisher covered a lot of ground here, and it's understandable that she wanted to write about her friendships and brain mass, but her struggle with her invisible illness could have made for a satisfying memoir on its own.
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A luminous memoir about how friendship saved one woman’s life, for anyone who has loved a friend who was sick, grieving, or lost—and for anyone who has struggled to seek or accept helpEva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age thirty, an undiscovered mass in her brain ruptured. So did her life. A brain surgery marked only the beginning of a long journey, and when her illness hit a critical stage, it forced her to finally admit the long‑suppressed truth: she was vulnerable, she needed help, and she longed to grow. She needed true friendship for the first time.
How to Be Loved is the story of how an isolated person’s life was ripped apart only to be gently stitched back together through friendship, and the recovery—of many stripes—that came along the way. It explores the isolation so many of us feel despite living in an age of constant connectivity; how our ambitions sometimes pull us apart more than bring us together; and how a simple doughnut, delivered by a caring soul, can become the essence of what makes a life valuable. With gorgeous prose shot through with empathy, pain, fear, and the secret truths inside all of us, Eva writes about the friends who taught her to grow up and open her heart—and how the relentlessness of suffering can give rise to the greatest joy.