Tuesday, August 31, 2021


 Dear Blogger friends, it's been a while since I've posted about the books I've read. I am often asked (normally by people who DON'T read) where I find the time to read so many books. I don't know but read do I read! I tend to devour a book a week; mostly fiction and every so often I find a non-fiction book to read. 

Recently the Dominee (reverend) of the Dutch Reformed Church in our town died from Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. My neighbor had just been lent a book about a young Capetonian girl who passed away from the same cause. 

Get me to 21 - the Jenna Lowe story: 

After an extraordinary four-year battle, Gabi Lowe lost her beautiful, talented 20-year-old daughter, Jenna Lowe, on 8 June 2015 to pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare degenerative lung disease, following a double lung transplant.

Jenna was young, bright and articulate. She was LEAD SA’s Youth Hero of the Year in 2015. Her death was mourned by thousands of people whose lives she had touched. During her short but full life, Jenna and the Lowe family raised much-needed awareness around this rare and devastating disease, highlighting the dire need for access to medication and organ donors locally. Although desperately ill, Jenna became the face for organ donation in South Africa through the hugely successful #GetMeTo21 campaign in which she invited all South Africans to attend her twenty-first birthday celebration by clicking on a link to become an organ donor. Tragically, Jenna died four months before reaching her milestone.

Brilliantly written, riveting in all its terrible truth and pain, in this brutally honest memoir Gabi Lowe shares her family’s desperate fight to save Jenna’s life. Get Me to 21 will inspire us to believe that the ability to face even the darkest, and most unimaginable, lives deep within us all.

Gabi Lowe who wrote the memoir,  with Jenna 
Jenna, a beautiful teenager who modelled for Cosmopolitan
Jenna's younger sister, Kristi is a renowned singer Top photo: Kristi sings a song jenna wrote at a national rugby match in Cape Town. Bottom left: Jenna thanks the people for their support. Bottom right: Gabi prepares the medication which, in the early stages of her illness, helped her to live reasonably normally as did the mobility scooter which she is sitting on next to her sister on the rugby field 

 I knew how the story ended; I had read the blurb. I knew that Jenna died just four months short of her 21st birthday.  I never read during the day (I don't have time) I had started this book on Thursday night. On Saturday I picked up the book at 11am and by 2pm, reached the part where she had a lung transplant. Nothing warned me how emotionally involved I would become in this story. Her mother and other family members took turns to nurse  Jenna in ICU:  24/7. 
 The eight-hour surgery lung transplant was successful but her 42kg body was wracked by gastro paresis, appendicitis, kidney failure. Her mother was with her the day before she died, never once believing that her beloved daughter wasn't going to get through this. 

I had reached this part at 3.30 and had been sobbing for an hour and a half. 

When I finally turned to the last page, I sent my neighbor an WhatsApp message telling her how the book had affected me. She said she had had the same reaction and couldn't put it down until it was finished.


Believe it or not, the next book I selected from my bookshelf - I buy previously owned books very cheaply from my friend's second hand shop; from the laundry (!) And from a local coffee shop - was called Immortal Bird.

I was a only a few pages into the book, that I realized: here we go again. ANOTHER heartbreaking, choke-me-up  book about a young child written by its parent.

A searing account of a father’s struggle to save his remarkable son from a rare heart condition that threatens his life—“a powerful and lyric portrait of a son and a vibrant family” 

Damon Weber is a brilliant kid—a skilled actor and a natural leader at school. Born with a congenital heart defect that required surgery when he was a baby, Damon’s spirit and independence have always been a source of pride to his parents, who vigilantly look for any signs of danger.

Unbowed by frequent medical checkups, Damon proves to be a talent on stage, appears in David Milch’s HBO series Deadwood, and maintains an active social life, whenever he has the energy. But running through Damon’s coming-of-age in the shadow of affliction is another story: his father Doron’s relentless search for answers in a race against time.

Immortal Bird is a stirring, gorgeously written memoir of a father’s fight to save his son’s life.

At the moment I'm reading Honor Among Thieves by Jeffrey Archer; after reading a riveting Jack Higgins novel, Thunder Point in which a Nazi U-boat carrying Martin Bormann, Adolf Hitler's henchman was sunk in 1945. It was discovered in 1992, on a reef by a professional diver who retrieved perfectly preserved Top Secret documents, signed by the Fuhrer, containing evidence so sensitive that it would rock the British government to its very core. 

I aim to read a romantic novel next! 


  1. I hear you. I read each and every day, and some of the book I have read have wrung my heart.

  2. I can see how that first book would be wrenching.

    I first read Thunder Point years ago. Among other things I liked how it took the villain from the previous book and turned him into the hero.


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