Audiobook Review: Sixtyfive Roses by Heather Summerhayes Cariou

June 22, 2009

Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister’s Memoir by Heather Summerhayes Cariou

Published by McArthur & Company

Rating: 4.5 stars

Sixtyfive Roses is a memoir written by Heather Summerhayes Cariou, whose younger sister Pam was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at age four. The book is called “Sixtyfive Roses” after the way Pam was able to pronounce “Cystic Fibrosis” as a child. The doctors told the family that Pam would only have months to live but they were determined to save their daughter and did everything in their power to do so. With the help of their community and others’ support, Heather’s parents founded the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation which raised awareness and funds for further research and discovery of new treatments. With the encouragement of family, friends and the community at large, Pam lived until the age of twenty-six.

Though this book primarily focuses on the relationship between Heather and Pam, there is so much more to be found and discovered while reading this book. Heather’s writing is beautiful and I really appreciated her inclusion of excerpts of family letters and writing, especially those from Pam’s point of view. This book shows both the wonderful and difficult moments for the Summerhayes family, without glossing over any of the inevitable arguments and tension that arose over the years.

My experience reading this book was both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Knowing this is a true story really heightened my emotions and made me ache for all that Pam and her family endured. Though Heather has done an excellent job in portraying the trials and tribulations they all went through, I still cannot begin to imagine how it must have felt.

On the other hand, I think that what Pam would have wanted readers to take away from her story is a sense of triumph, rather than pain. In the moments leading up to her death, it was Pam who asked Heather to write down their story. Though Pam did ultimately pass away at a young age, it is important to remember that she lived TWENTY-TWO years longer than the doctors had predicted. She lived life to the fullest and refused to be bound by her illness. Pam’s story is a lesson in courage and strength that is truly inspirational.

Currently, Eva Longoria and her production company have optioned the film rights to Sixtyfive Roses and I certainly hope that this moving story will be put on screen to further raise awareness about Cystic Fibrosis and this powerful story.

This is an incredibly touching story that will stay with you long after you finish the book. I encourage everone to buy a copy of this book – it is highly recommended and as an added incentive, McArthur & Company publishers will donate 5% of proceeds from book sales to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

BIG THANKS to Sarah of Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for my review copy.

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