Review of No Cure for Being Human, by Kate Bowler

No Cure for Being Human

(And Other Truths I Need to Hear)

by Kate Bowler

Random House, 2021. 202 pages.
Review written January 16, 2024, from my own copy, purchased via
Starred Review

I ordered this book because of how much I loved the author’s book of meditations, The Lives We Actually Have, and that after reading it, I realized she was the author of Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. Since I loved that book, I clearly needed to read this follow-up.

This book is a memoir about the author getting experimental treatment for her terminal cancer at thirty-five years old. Spoiler alert: She survives. But many other people in the same experimental trials did not. And the outcome was by no means certain when she lived it. In fact, she was told she had a 14% chance of survival.

Kate Bowler is a professor who’s studied the prosperity gospel in America. And she found as she was going through this that she had strong feelings about self-help books promising “Your Best Life Now” and bucket lists and other mantras that rang hollow when she was facing high chances of dying before she saw her small son grow up.

This book is her story of that journey. I love her short chart at the back of “Clich├ęs we Hear and Truths We Need.” A couple of examples:

Carpe diem! –> I mean, yes, unless you need a nap.

Let go and let God. –> God loves you, but won’t do your taxes.

Make every minute count. –> Life is unpredictable. You’re a person, not a certified accountant.

You are invincible. –> There’s no cure for being human.

I hope that gives you the idea what you’ll find here: No trite formulas for happiness in hard times. But at the same time, encouragement that being human and being alive is a good thing.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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