Inspired by real characters, Paulette Mahurin’s HIS NAME WAS BEN probes in rich depth a story about living life to the fullest. Many books are out in the world that tell of patients, friends and family dealing with their own or another’s journey with cancer. The exceptionally tender, fact-filled and emotionally laden difference here is the intense dissection of fear, love, hope and endurance.
Sara’s condition improves with experimental drug treatment after her double mastectomy. Much slower to heal than the cancer is her negative self-image as it battles with the desire for love, sex and a caring relationship. Stealing a peek as Ben fills out a questionnaire at their oncologist’s office, she is attracted to him and takes note of his telephone number. Egged on by her friend Ellen, she finally calls him and sets a date…but when an accident keeps her from him, he figures she is a flake. After all, why would she be any different than his past experiences? The tall exceptionally good-looking man, she later learns, has pancreatic cancer, one of the most hopeless of cancers.
Ben and Sara literally grope toward a fulfilling relationship as they deal with their illnesses, toxic family histories and their developing trust and love. Mahurin’s writing is sharp as the surgeon’s scalpel cutting into the dynamics of childhood trauma. As Sara and Ben assist each other to deal with their pasts, their love intensifies and matures. Healing occurs on multiple levels, even in the face of Ben’s deteriorating physical condition. Mahurin has an enormous talent for exploring character development as the reader finds in the unfolding of layer after layer of individual growth and change. Sara’s dog Tazzie and her friend Ellen, a nurse as is Sara, have been her only support until Ben’s entry into her life. By the story’s end, their mutual support system swells and multiplies in numbers, understanding and love. Sara and Ben give the fortunate reader lessons in living.
Paulette Mahurin’s compassion is shown throughout her writing but also in her “real” life. Proceeds from her writing go to assist in animal rescue, obviously an issue close to her heart.
The story follows this pair as they deal with overwhelming family obstacles. Neither one trusts easily because of their past life experiences. As they push themselves to accept unfamiliar emotions, learn to trust and let go of fear, Ben and Sara find a deep, healing love that is rare. It is a great reminder that it’s never too late to find that special someone.
Mahurin does an excellent job of drawing her reader into this story. The characters are realistic and beautifully flawed. The story, although tragic and emotional, is powerful and inspiring. I would recommend this book to others and thank Paulette Mahurin for writing such a thought provoking and poignant story.