Fierce Joy
by Ellen Schecter
Greenpoint Press

"Life and death are set before me. I choose life."

This is a true story of how a severe illness took over the life of the author, and her determination to fight back. It is both exhausting and uplifting in her quest to find out what is wrong. Readers feel her apprehension with some doctors and her peace of mind with others. Her conflicting emotions to attempt to bravely toss off the pain as if it were "nothing," to admitting her fears, and facing the illness, lead the readers through a series of turbulent unknowns until, at last, the worst is over.

After several setbacks from the ravages of what is diagnosed as a rare form of auto-immune neuropathy, and her body's intolerance to certain medications, the author signs up for Bat Torah classes. She discovers that by focusing on spirituality and religious traditions, she is also finding "healing even when a cure is impossible."

The author's life before the illness was active and happy. She did not have time to be sick. She lived in New York City with her loving husband and two children, had a career as a children's book author, and was a television writer for a popular PBS educational program. As far as the disease was concerned, none of that mattered.

The neuropathy spreads throughout her body. It attacked with a vengeance. But this book doesn't focus on the destruction. Instead, every chapter resonates with the author's will to get better. Her husband, children, additional family members, friends, doctors, and religious leaders help her through her human suffering while supporting her in her spiritual journey.

Fierce Joy was a category finalist in the Eric Hoffer Award for Books.

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