Book Title: Held Together: A True Story of Love's Victory by Jenny Q
Category: Adult Non-Fiction; 456 pages
Release date: June 1, 2018
Tour dates: Sept 10 to 28, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Graphic medical procedures, some bad language)
In January of 2014, Joshua Tree’s beloved village herbalist, Jenny Q. suddenly became seriously ill and rapidly descended into a coma with slender chance of survival. The shock of this news initiated an overwhelming outpouring of love, wit, service, practical magic and sharing of spiritual wisdom between those in her intimate desert community. Indeed it seemed that the entire group became one in their desperate effort and race against the clock to save her life.
While the words of others in the community tell the story in this book, it is Jenny’s own insightful writings that provide a fascinating window into a range of rare experiences. She gives us a unique glimpse into the mysterious worlds encountered while in a coma, the absolute alteration of losing one’s legs, the subtle venom of PTSD, the nightmare of withdrawal from prescription opiates, and the maddening frustration of having to re-learn basic skills previously taken for granted such as the ability to walk.
Held Together is part memoir, part ode to loving a remarkable woman. It is written by Jenny Q, and her friends, some of which I found to be talented writers. Most of the essays, vignettes, poems and accounts by the various writers are short, ranging from one to several pages, making this a book that made me turn the pages faster. This method of recounting Jenny Q's extraordinary experience worked for me. It made me understand the importance of community in Jenny Q's life.
This book paints the picture of a woman with a joie-de-vivre and infectious personality. Through her family and friends' eyes, we slowly unravel Jenny Q's life as a RN and herbalist, mother to a young daughter affectionately named Yazzy, owner of an apothecary shop, sister and daughter to a large Arab family of doctors who worked together for months to help her survive her ordeal. Jenny Q is also a sensitive person, who went through turbulent teen years, alcoholism, and struggles with her desire to be a lesbian. She found acceptance with the hippy community, with her large Joshua Tree family of individuals with alternative life-views.
The book is divided into four parts that chronicles what Jenny Q went through from when she first started feeling sick to her recovery and rehabilitation. Jenny Q and her friends and family recount the horrifying account of how she contracted an infection after a small surgery and fell into a coma as her body went into shock from severe sepsis and renal failure. It is hard not to be deeply touched by this story as we read about the outpouring of love and help from her community, her family who rallied around her, her mother who never left her side for almost 6 months. When we read Jenny Q's poetic narrative as she describes her experience and feelings of losing her legs below the knee, of her tortuous journey from daily excruciating pain, of learning to become independent again, learning to live with her losses, we feel she is revealing a big part of herself, thus becoming an inspiration to others.
Held Together was a group project that was clearly written as a way of healing from the grief Jenny Q and her extended families experienced. It is also filled with words of hope, love, and joy. Although I do not share or condone some of the beliefs, alternative lifestyles or spiritual viewpoints of the Joshua Tree community, I appreciated this touching story of a beautiful person who gave so much to others and in return received the blessings of loving and strong friendships. It touched me on so many levels as I understand well the power of motherhood, community and friendship.
For those who love memoirs and true-life stories about survival, motherhood, feminism, spirituality, alternative lifestyle, love of nature and strength of community, this book will leave a lasting impression on you.
To read reviews, please follow the tour on Jenny Q's page on iRead Book Tours.
Jenny Q was born in Southern California to Palestinian immigrants. Her love of herbs began in her teens while on the road following the Grateful Dead. After exploring many heart homes, she set her roots in Joshua Tree, California, where she opened Grateful Desert, the local apothecary. Joyously sharing her life with her tight-knit desert community, Jenny lives with her beloveds~ Yazzy, her daughter and Myshkin, her wife.
Connect with Jenny: Website
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