Because of her family history, a woman begins to realize she has a very high chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Being the competitive yet sympathetic person she is, she takes steps to take control of the situation and to create a record for her family, also for other people under the same threat. And so Resurrection Lily by Amy Byer Shainman appears, one of the better memoirs recently produced. It is a very fine read from beginning to end, using material both personal and professional. But the author does not restrict the text to her individual experience; she looks at the much larger matter of cancer risk assessment in general, identifying it as one of the major medical and social issues facing contemporary society. Sometimes Shainman turns to the basic questions of life as they manifest themselves for her. But she never seeks to impose her experiences or conclusions. They are simply presented, often with a most attractive degree of wit and humor.
One of the most notable features of Resurrection Lily by Amy Byer Shainman is the balance it achieves between anecdote and professional information. It is a book to learn from but also an account to enjoy on a personal level. Although for many people the central theme will be less than cheerful, in many respects this is a positive book, and the characters appearing in it are vivid and memorable. Beautifully written and interestingly presented through a central structural metaphor, it is a biography dealing with an increasingly important topic, and one that will appeal to a very wide audience.