This book is an unusual collaboration between husband and wife Hazen and Linda Pierson Meek. She provides a 25-page prologue, and his writing completes the book.
The Meeks cover much of the same territory, discussing their 33-year relationship and the health problems—three strokes, a heart attack, quadruple bypass surgery and prostate cancer—that Hazen endured for decades until his 2013 death. Linda’s prologue provides a light overview of their lives together; Hazen goes deeper, often telling the same stories from his perspective, with more detail. In addition, he aims to provide lessons and inspiration to others facing similar physical challenges.
Hazen knew his time was limited when he began his writing. After he died, a family friend assembled his work and Linda’s thoughts into the book, first published the year after Hazen’s death.
Hazen’s story is, indeed, inspiring. He writes about recovery after his strokes and how he baffled his doctor and taught himself to walk again. He also taught himself to type with his good hand, so that he could share his lessons with other stroke patients.
Giving Up Is Not an Option is an easy read—short and uncomplicated—but one shouldn’t underestimate it. The authors tell their stories without being maudlin; on the contrary, Hazen’s accounts, and his spirit, are at times uplifting. For example, he recounts the story of how he taught himself to walk again, one tiny step at a time, without telling Linda, and how he greeted her at the door when she came home from work one day.
The collaboration format is a bit awkward, and the book might have been stronger had it focused solely on Hazen’s narrative. Linda’s prologue takes up one-third of the book, and then readers have to start over, diluting the impact of Hazen’s story.
Nonetheless, anyone working to recover from injuries, physical or mental, can benefit from this slim book, as could family members or friends seeking insight into what a loved one is enduring.
Also available as an ebook.