2017 Books for a Better Life Award Winner: Inspirational Memoir
The author of the New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.
A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant. Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically.
Hoping to give Maggie the best chance possible for a successful transplant, the sisters dig deep into the marrow of their relationship to clear a path to unconditional acceptance. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors, but take on what Lesser calls a "soul marrow transplant," examining their family history, having difficult conversations, examining old assumptions, and offering forgiveness until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process—before, during, and after the transplant—encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects their lives.
But life does not follow the storylines we plan for it. Maggie’s body is ultimately too weak to fight the relentless illness. As she and Lesser prepare for the inevitable, they grow ever closer as their shared blood cells become a symbol of the enduring bond they share. Told with suspense and humor, Marrow is joyous and heartbreaking, incandescent and profound. The story reveals how even our most difficult experiences can offer unexpected spiritual growth. Reflecting on the multifaceted nature of love—love of other, love of self, love of the world—Marrow is an unflinching and beautiful memoir about getting to the very center of ourselves.
“Marrow is wise and raw, vulnerable and funny. Elizabeth’s profoundly honest journey to learn what it is to be flawed, to grow, to change, to love and to let go moved me deeply…..to my marrow.”
“I thought with Marrow, Elizabeth Lesser had written a book about dying. But in fact (and miraculously) this is a book that teaches us how to live.”
“Every human goes through love and loss. Not everyone finds out what matters most. This book is also your story and mine. Read it and you may get to know yourself a little better.”
“Marrow is a deeply brave, honest, emotional, visionary ride into the scary and liberating marrow of sisterhood. Lesser’s book is ultimately a spiritual transfusion, begging us to clean and rid ourselves of any past blood that stands in the path of love.”
“Lesser has reached into the center of her soul to write a book rich with love—love that is just as equally weighted by realism and as it is lightened by mysticism. It is real love: powerful and transformative. Marrow is truly a beautiful book, and an important one.”
“Marrow is an unforgettable memoir about two sisters, but it’s really about all of us. It’s about the courage it takes to own our stories, look truth in the eye, and write our own bold endings. No one truth-tells with more soul and tenacity. Lesser’s courage is contagious.”
“I am moved to the core by the depth and beauty of this memoir. Like Broken Open, this a book I will reread often as a reminder of what is really essential in life: love and spirit.”
“Marrow will take you into the depths of what it means to be DNA-linked family whose destinies were linked before birth. This beautifully written and evocative book touched me deeply; may it touch you too.”
“Elizabeth Lesser is a masterful storyteller and a heartfelt, eloquent, and graceful writer whose words branded themselves into my mind and pulled me along willingly, page by page. Marrow filled me with love, humility, and compassion.”
“Lesser, whose talent and unusual blend of heart and intelligence I’ve long admired, perceptively shows the soul in process. Marrow is a beautiful book that will move you but also show you how to tap into the healing richness of the soul in any serious life challenge.”
“Lesser has woven a masterful tapestry of tenderness and insight from her lifelong journey with her sister Maggie. Her courage and honesty are only matched by the depth of her love. This book erases the line between writing and living to give each of us a taste of the Mystery.”
“A profound and ultimately uplifting memoir of family love, fortitude, and healing. Readers will be inspired by Lesser’s wise and loving approach to both life and death.”
“This profound memoir traces the love between two sisters as they travel together through ‘thickets of despair and hope,’ their bond deepening beneath the bone to the ‘soul’s marrow.’”
“A searching, compassionate, and uplifting memoir.”
“Lesser unlocked the goodness of a whole new kind of relationship with her dear sister and a whole new understanding of her own capacity for love and grief.”
“A clear and graceful writer, Lesser... brings anecdotes from history, mythology and philosophy to bear on an essentially tragic story.”
“Her sister Maggie needs bone marrow transplant, so Lesser willingly donates hers. But the two end up sharing something even more important. Fearlessly opening up their deepest selves ...the sisters eloquently school readers about love, self-accpetance, and the truest way to live.”
“Marrow is a gorgeous contemplation of what it means to live and love with our whole being, regardless of the amount of chronological time we are granted. Read it and be lifted up; share it and lift up others.”