I received this from Fran Lewis (her bio at the end of the review) this morning. It’s long, has spoilers, and is an honor to receive from this highly acclaimed woman. I’m deeply grateful for this.
His Name Was Ben: Paulette Mahurin
Life carries with it many obstacles, changes and roadblocks that are often insurmountable to overcome. Finding someone to share your inner most thoughts, wishes and desires with can take more than a lifetime or happen just by chance. The circle of life has no beginning or end depending on your outlook. But, what happens when you are thrown a serious curve ball that will send you into a downward spiral and falling into a chasm that you might never come out of? Love is defined as a profoundly, tender, passionate affection for another person according to Dictionary.com. The love of a parent for a child is different than the love of husband for his wife. Author Paulette Mahurin takes the reader inside the hearts, minds, fears, insecurities and hopes of two special people: Sara Phillips and Ben Gottlieb whose time on this earth might be limited but whose zest for life will live on forever.
Sara and Ben meet in a very different way. Both are cancer patients under the care of a wonderful doctor named Zimmerman. A special study and program has been created to help terminal patients find a possible way to slow down the illness or if lucky go into remission. This is their story and your will hear their words, understand their hopes and fears and realize that not everything is always Happily Ever After but sometimes you can have that Cinderella Love and Wedding!
Sara and Ben start off on a rocky path as Sara’s best friend Ellen encourages her to make the first move. Well, she did copy his phone number while he was filling out the paperwork for the study. How ingenious is that! First impressions made over the phone are not always the best but Sara forges ahead and manages to convince Ben to meet her. But, let’s not forget the other real star of the novel: Tazzie the Rottweiler who will steal your heart and who is Sara’s mainstay or security dog keeping her centered and safe.
Sara was a nurse practitioner diagnosed with breast cancer, the aggressive type. Just hearing the words can rip a person apart and the treatment alone plus the radical surgery changed her life forever but not her will to live and her perspective to find real love. Sara might have this horrific illness but what is even more compelling are the dreams that she shares with readers and the knowledge that something happened to her that her mother did not prevent although she tried. A brother that is mentally ill and his nightly trips into his sister’s room are the center of her nightmares and dreams. But, where was anyone to comfort her and why did her mother hide the truth for so long. With her father ill having two heart attacks not privileged to a lot of what she was going through, a mother who is critical, hard to get along with, super cold and unyielding, Sara only has her special dog and Ellen to comfort her when things get tough and they do. But, she is not the only one with a family that is dysfunctional and cold. When getting to know Ben the author allows readers to understand why he is distant from an abusive father and a mother who does not come to his aide. With his brother Michael, a doctor and his sister-in-law Candace Ben have all the support he needs until Sara.
Good insurance is great and access to the best doctors even better when a new research program creating a new trial drugs for this type of cancer. Both seriously ill but his quite grave as Sara experiences some changes allowing her to want more than just a passing friendship with Ben and igniting her innermost woman! The object of her desires Ben.
Things progress in a different way after Sara fails to meet Ben when in an accident before their first meeting. But, barriers are lifted and their friendship blooms and the author brings to light that living everyday and loving life is what keeps them both centered and going. Never yielding to their illnesses, going for treatment we experience with Sara the up’s, down’s failures and successes that both she and Ben experience. As their honesty with each other broadens and they promise to be “ honest but sensitive, and stay open to conversation,” the dam bursts, their love can bloom and an amazing world opens up for them even for just a short time.
Ben’s parents live by the liquor bottle; Sara grew up with a mother that enjoyed being in control critical, cold and a brother who was schizophrenic and an ex-husband that made things worse. Sara realized that cancer might be an obstacle she might or might not overcome but being with Ben just might negate all the rest.
This is a story about relationships past and present. Two people that find love embrace it and work out their problems in order to explore life together. As you read more you will learn just what both Sara and Ben experience when going through the many medical tests, shots and treatments and understand why Pancreatic Cancer is so deadly the toll it took on his body and the reason why more research and funding is needed.
Miracles happen even if they are only in your mind and heart. Is there such a thing as a miracle cure? One can only hope that there will be someday. The new treatment is valuable but just how much time does it give them both?
When the harsh realities set in Sara and Ben decide to take the next step. A love story that transcends all time, place and allows readers to know just how precious life is and to what lengths some will go to in order to live. Ben learns to trust Sara and Sara learn to open up to Ben. But, will they share their pasts and understand and come to grips it? When Sara confronts her mother about Jack what happens will surprise readers and help them understand her actions. When Ben and Sara’s father have a talk tears will come to your eyes as this wonderful young man is accepted into this family and her father takes a step that most would not. Can she talk to her father and tell him about Jack? Is he really that ill or will the truth make him stronger?
A final diagnosis that sets a chain of events in motion that will give both Sara and Ben a special time together to enjoy the outdoors, Tazzie and watch Orion Twinkle. An ending that was so touching, sad, heartfelt and endearing and a reviewer who used up two boxes of tissues just to finish reading the last chapter.
HIS NAME WAS BEN! The impact on Sara’s life will stay with her forever. The love of this man will never die as she remembers their life together, looks at Orion and remembers his poem that you can read on page 223. Friendships, loyalties, trust, hope, unity, family doubts and relationships are just some of the issues that this book addresses. Author Paulette Mahurin once again created a story so profound, compelling and honest that many will learn from reading it, others will regain some hope and readers will come away understanding the true meaning of LOVE OF LIFE!
Fran Lewis: reviewer
Reviewer Fran Lewis: Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently. She is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s story in honor of her mom. Fran hopes to create more awareness for a cure of Alzheimer.
She was also the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites. You can read some of my reviews on Ezine.com and on ijustfinished under the name Gabina. Follow Here To Listen to Fran’s Radio Show and Here