Book Review: Lightning Flowers – My Journey To Uncover The Cost Of Saving A Life

Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life

By Katherine E. Standefer

Published November 10, 2020

244 pages

Memoir (Medical)

This is a well written memoir about a young woman’s journey through the medical system and her challenges to have certain procedures performed without insurance, and when she does eventually have insurance, the fight to get additional procedures done before her insurance possibly runs out.

Part memoir, part political essay and part environmental awareness, Ms. Standefer’s memoir delves into her struggles with discovering in her twenties that she must have a medical device usually advocated towards the elderly, implanted in her body.

She portrayed well the emotional and physical pain in her writing, and the reader can almost feel her pain and her turmoil.

Although extremely well written, there were a few aspects of the memoir that left me empty. She dedicated a few chapters to the social and environmental impact the manufacturing of one of these devices can demand. 

As a person who lives with this device, I understand her inner turmoil of her own life versus the impact the device has on the planet, but it became too much of a dive into statistics and political facts, so much so, I skipped those chapters.

One of the greatest downfalls with medical memoirs is the author’s need to go into detailed statistics about the illness and, in this case, the device. Much of the information is really unnecessary and if the reader really wanted a detailed list of the components that make up an implanted medical device, I can easily look those things up on the internet, or in a book related to those specifics.

For me, when I read a memoir, I don’t want to read a lot of unnecessary information about its manufacture. I want to read about the author’s experience both emotionally and physically. A memoir should have a problem, a journey and a solution.

Unfortunately, this memoir ends with no resolution to the author’s problem, and maybe that was intentional on the author’s part because, in fact, her case is open and ongoing. But that is the physical part of her journey. The reader never really knows what she learned about herself because of the traumas she experienced. How did it shape her and her outlook on life going forwards? Perhaps there will be a part two, but despite how extremely well written the book is, it left me empty and disappointed. 

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