Book Review: Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved

I read Kate Bowler’s new book in one sitting while a gurgling, nocturnal eight week old breathed into my neck. I am not sure I recommend reading another mother’s account of dying while still squinting through the haze of postpartum depression. But I am not sure I don’t recommend it, either. Sometimes solitary communion is just the thing for a dimmed heart. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved is many, many things.

It is:

A rumination on the questions many believers ask at one point or another,


“God, are you here?”

“What does this suffering mean?”

A call to believing women – during an earlier health crisis and then the months leading up to her cancer diagnosis Kate is told by doctor after doctor that her pain is exaggerated, misplaced or indicative of nothing more than emotional distress. Both times they are very wrong.

A guide for anyone who loves someone who is in mental or physical pain. Her advice on what not to say to people in the midst of crisis is the best read on the subject this daughter of a cancer victim has ever read. And while there are a few things I’d add to it, most contain four letter words and so for the sake of the gentle BCC reader, I will leave them to another post, another time.

A document that gives the sick and hurt express permission to feel no shame, to abandon all guilt over not knowing how the hell to respond to right now or what may be.

A nod to a God that waits and does not always heal.

An opportunity to witness a sister’s hopes, hurts, uncertainty, unraveling, peace and path.

And for me, while I rocked my baby and read about Kate contemplating leaving hers, it was an affirmation that much of the work of living life is preparing to leave it. To leave the babies we’ve made, to leave the relationships we’ve forged, to leave the people we’ve touched. To leave them better for the pressure of our hands upon their heads.

As a friend says to her, “we are all terminal.” Kate has an idea of what will take her from her time here and I do not. Still, we will both be taken just the same.

In confronting her cancer, in accepting that yes, she will die but there is a good work to be done until then, Kate teaches us the same lesson God seems intent on spilling out across mortality.

Life doesn’t keep. But Love does.

And so we are saved, even when all seems lost.


(Find her book here.)


  1. Kate is great. That sums it up for me. Her words have always been profound for me. Looking forward (with some hope and fear) to reading. Thanks for the review.

  2. Library hold button pushed.

  3. Paula Schmidt-Lewis says:

    I heard Katie today for the first time while driving to a doctor’s appointment and listening to her interview on Fresh Air. Her story was palpable. It mixed humor with profound sadness, despair with newfound joy, moments of great “ah ha’s,” juxtaposed against the most daunting unanswerable questions that we must all inevitably face. I found that Katie’s way of sharing her journey –both with eloquence and raw emotion–gave voice to so many parallel feelings and situations I’ve experienced as well during my now seventeen year war on cancer. And as I listened and cried along with her I realized that a whole new level of deeply buried grief I’d been carrying for God knows how long had not only bubbled up but broken loose. I came home and ordered Katie’s new memoir, and after I read it, I plan to pass it around the family first to my now adult children whose lives have been shaped in part by the rarely spoken fears they have harbored for years about their mother’s health. Thank you Katie for your refreshing honesty , your courage to speak out, and your keen wit. I can’t say that I look forward to reading your memoir because I know it will be gut wrenching. But I certainly know it is a memoir I cannot miss.

  4. J. Stapley says:

    Thanks for the review and your perspective. I also listened to her interview on NPR, and found it remarkable.

  5. This looks awesome. Thanks for a great review.

  6. I heard the NPR interview and was blown away — there’s real wisdom and power!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s