Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review: Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and her Joy Jars by Erik Rees

The book, Never Ever Give Up:  The Inspiring Story of Jessie and Her Joy Jars by Erik Rees with Jenna Glatzer is a beautiful message of hope and courage lived out in a little girl's life as she faced cancer head on.  In this book, Jessie Rees challenges each one of us to make this world a better place by thinking of other's needs before our own and reaching out to spread joy through acts of kindness...especially to those children battling cancer.
This is a tender and beautiful book
that challenged me to look
beyond myself to the needs
 of others.
"It started with a simple question: How can we help them? It became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. When Jessica Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 11, she chose to focus not on herself but on bringing joy and hope to other children suffering from cancer.

During the ten months she battled cancer, she and her family worked in the “Joy Factory” (originally their garage) making JoyJars®—packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer. Jessie first handed them out personally at the hospital where she was being treated, but the effort blossomed quickly and there were soon thousands of JoyJars® being distributed across the United States and to over fifteen countries. Today, more than 100,000 kids have received JoyJars®, and they continue shipping each week to kids in over 200 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.

Jessie lost her battle with cancer in January 2012, but her message lives on in the Jessie Rees Foundation, which has become a beacon of hope for families fighting pediatric cancer.

Join the movement at " (Excerpt from the book cover.)

My Review by Karen Wiser

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  This is a perfect time to read an informative book about this dreadful disease and increase our understanding of how we can help.  Never Ever Give Up is just the book!

Never Ever Give Up by Erik Rees with Jenna Glatzer is a wonderful book and I highly recommend reading it.  This tenderly written true story narrated by the father of Jessie Rees, elicits so much emotion due the weightiness of the subject matter, pediatric cancer, that I must confess, I was exhausted after reading it.  I'm sure that being a parent, I frequently put myself in the father and mother's position as they walked through each new trial of this horrible diagnosis pronounced on their previously healthy and vivacious daughter.  The raw emotion and the transparency in which the book is written provide the reader with a microscopic look at the behind the scene details of such an earth shattering diagnosis and how it impacts the entire family. 

This book touched me in several ways.  First, I will now be better equipped to help a family who is going through the dreadful diagnosis of pediatric cancer.  At the end of the book, the author lists "25 Ways To Help a Family With a Child Fighting Cancer."  This is a tangible list with practical things to do for the family, including ideas like making a meal or filling up the car gas tank to cleaning their house or babysitting the siblings. 

Secondly, I have a much deeper understanding of the exhaustion, confusion, fear and turmoil that a family will go through when they receive a pediatric cancer diagnosis. The book provides a candid look into this family's experience which will allow me to be a great deal more empathetic should I ever be confronted with this horrific situation. 

Finally, after reading Never Ever Give Up , I am reminded of the simplicity of a child's heart and faith through Jessie's determination to make her situation more about helping others than focusing on herself.  I am flabbergasted by her selfless acts of kindness as she made the Joy Jars and chose to center her life on bringing relief to others despite the pain and suffering she was in the middle of.  I am completely in awe at the way Jessie and her family have chosen to make something good out of this terrible situation.  It has given me hope and spurred me on to literally "Never Ever Give Up" on reaching a hurting and lonely world, one person at a time! 

This book is narrated with such grace and detail that the reader can't help but feel that they actually had the privilege of meeting Jessie!  It is eloquently written and has an authenticity that cannot be underscored.  What a great example Jessie Rees left for us in her short time here on earth.  "I you?"  (NEGU Nation)

I would like to thank Handlebar and Zondervan Publishing for this review copy of Never Ever Give Up.  The opinions in this review are my own.  It is a privilege and honor to be a part of this book launch.

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