Friday, November 7, 2014

Book Review: "Creation of Calm" (Mark Fraley)


The word evokes a different response from each person who sees or hears it. Maybe it conjures up a memory of a loved one's struggle, or a distant possibility you work to ward off with as healthy a lifestyle as possible, or even your own diagnosis.

For a beautifully written and illustrated perspective on a cancer diagnosis and fight, I highly recommend Creation of Calm: A Cancer Survivor's Sketchbook Story, by Mark Fraley.

As a husband and young father of two sons, Fraley was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and later, a second bout of cancer. He suffered complications from several surgeries, endured chemotherapy, lost his hair, and spent days weak and sick.

Sketch 1 (from book): Fraley and his sons

What makes his story different is his perspective.

He maintained journals throughout his illness, and added simple pen-and-ink sketches of his loved ones and the things about which he wrote. When his battle with cancer was finally declared victorious, Fraley had found something even more precious than remission: the absolute assurance that "a loving God [was] at work," despite the storms raging in his life (5).

Sketch 2 (from book): Fraley's wife and their son

Creation of Calm is a poignant and thought-provoking response to the kind of health crisis that can turn a life inside out and leave a person bitter and angry. Fraley never claims not to have been afraid, and he fought off misplaced guilt and shame on a regular basis. Yet he writes with compassion, characteristic honesty, and the kind of tender empathy that only someone who has walked the road of cancer can feel and extend to others.

Mark Fraley, Author
Images courtesy of Cladach Publishing

Without hesitation or compunction, I highly recommend Fraley's sketchbook for your consideration. Whether for yourself or a loved one, and whether you've experienced cancer personally or not, his clear, Hemingway-esque writing style and the directness with which he writes about his family, pain, faith, and discovery of art as a medium through which to filter and process all his experiences, will touch your heart and leave you encouraged.

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Title: Creation of Calm: A Cancer Survivor's Sketchbook Story
Author: Mark Fraley
ISBN: 978-0-98-910142-4

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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