Book Review: The Emily Updates by Thomas P.M. Barnett

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The Emily Updates: One Year in The Life of a Girl Who Lived by Thomas P.M. Barnett

Grand strategist and author Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett has published a starkly different book with The Emily Updates, an e-book series that turns away from abstractions of geopolitical strategy and to a deeply personal kind of conflict, his daughter Emily Barnett’s battle with advanced pediatric cancer. Culled from a blog originally written by Tom and his wife Vonne Meussling-Barnett to keep family and friends appraised of the details of Emily’s medical treatment, the series paints an intimate portrait of parental desperation and the amazing grace of a toddler facing a life-threatening disease.

There are two sizable groups of people who will react most strongly to The Emily Updates : parents of young children and those who have faced cancer themselves, or in a loved one. An excerpt:

…Javedan says that her right kidney is enormously enlarged. It is so big that it’s displaced the liver out of its usual spot. That’s what was so confusing in the examinations. There seems to be tumors in or on the kidney.

There’s no need to assume cancer just yet, he says, but he mentions the term Wilms’ Tumor. Javedan orders me to rush Emily to Georgetown within the hour. The head of pediatric surgery and the head of pediatric oncology are already alerted and waiting. The exploratory surgery will be tomorrow morning.

Javedan’s words just froze me: “It’s already been scheduled.”

The doctors will need to run many tests on Emily by the end of the day, so we must hurry. Javedan knows these people. “They are the best,” he assures me.

“Emily will survive,” he is certain.

“It’s wrong to assume she will die, no matter how bad things get in the next hours and days. Remember that,” he counsels.

Quite literally, every parent’s nightmare.

Barnett does not spare the details and The Emily Updates read very much like you are hearing what has just happened in a hospital waiting room or across the Barnett family kitchen table, grueling procedures no child so young should have to go through

Strongly recommended.

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