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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Audiobook Review: Unmeasured Strength by Lauren Manning

If you enjoy true stories revealing remarkable character you will want to read this book with its inspiring words of wisdom and insight.

Genre: Memoir
My Rating:  4.0 of 5.0
Product Description:
A survivor's awe-inspiring story of how she overcame tragedy and re-created herself as a wife, mother, and woman.

She had a big job on Wall Street, a loving husband, and an infant son, and a confidence born of intelligence and beauty. But on 9/11, good fortune was no match for catastrophe. When a wall of flame at the World Trade Center burned more than 80 percent of her body, Lauren Manning began a 10-year journey of survival and rebirth that tested her almost beyond human endurance.

Long before that infamous September day, Manning learned the importance of perseverance, relentless hard work, and a deep faith in oneself. So when the horrific moment of her near-death arrived, she possessed the strength and resilience to insist that she would not yield - not to the terrorists, not to the long odds, not to the bottomless pain and exhaustion. But as the difficult months and years went by, she came to understand that she had to do more than survive. She needed to undergo a complete transformation, one that would allow her to embrace her life and her loved ones in an entirely new way. Fleeing the burning tower, Manning promised herself that she would see her son's face again. Courageous and inspiring, Unmeasured Strength tells the riveting story of her heroic effort to make that miracle - and so many others - possible.
Review:  This author reveals her remarkable strength and determination while sharing her personal tragedy.

The early chapters reveal aspects of Lauren’s childhood and first marriage. This established the character traits that helped her struggle through early self esteem issues and showed some of the qualities and values that formed her determination to succeed in life.

There is remarkable prose describing her view of the dark times and struggles while under massive doses of pain medication. I particularly like these portions. I also enjoyed the upbeat quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

There is a nice acknowledgment of the strength and comfort her husband, Greg, received from his faith while he steadfastly loved Lauren and stood by her side. Lauren’s own recognition of God’s love was strengthened by all those people - strangers - who reached out to offer her support and encouragement.

During her treatments Lauren focused on wanting to get home to her son who was barely a toddler at the time of the injury.  Lauren knew herself, respected herself and was able to believe in her own worth. She continually followed her father’s motto: “get over it.”  Her motivational mantra became “I can do it and I will do it.”

She suffered excruciating pain, skin grafting and rehabilitation. She lost part of her fingers because of the burns. Even after she returned home after six months in the burn treatment facilities she had to relearn basic skills like feeding herself and she needed help dressing.  I appreciated that Lauren focused on repeatedly committing to “doing my best” and learning to compromise; acknowledging that she didn’t have to be “Super woman”.

At points there is too much minutia in certain less important events.  The medical and therapy are presented in great detail and some people might be more interested in these aspects than I was. Once I felt there was an awkward  transition from the details of a family disagreement on the morning of 9/11 to her being caught in the conflagration of the explosions at the World Trade Center.  I had to back track to make certain I hadn’t missed something.

Interestingly the author’s narration trembles with the remembered pain of her emotional turmoil during her failing first marriage. Yet at other times the narration is a bit monotone as she seems to be reading the text without pauses and without inflection. These times lacked the emotion that would add to the impact of the story although I sense that the author struggled to walk a fine line between sharing emotionally and sharing the practical strength needed to share her recovery.

The book reveals a remarkable woman who learned there are more important things in life than striving for professional success. The bottom-line advise she gives is highlighted at her website: “Every day you have a choice. Make it count.”  If you prefer to read memoirs, by all means get the book. If you like audios and memoirs then this is an inspiring story which is well worth the listen.
I received this audiobook for review as part of the Audiobook Jukebox reviewer program.

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