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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

"It's Saturday and everything is different. No, I didn't go to the market this morning and I didn't have my usual coffee on Westerstraat. And no, I wasn't getting ready for a new semester at college. Next Monday, January 31st, I have to admit myself at the hospital for my first chemotherapy session. For the next two months, I'm expected each week for a fresh shot of vincristine, etoposide, ifosfamide and loads more exciting abracadabra.' Sophie is twenty-one when she is diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. A striking, fun-loving student, her world is reduced overnight to the sterile confines of a hospital. But within these walls Sophie discovers a whole new world of white coats, gossiping nurses, and sexy doctors; of shared rooms, hair loss, and eyebrow pencils. As wigs become a crucial part of Sophie's new life, she reclaims a sense of self-expression. Each of Sophie's nine wigs makes her feel stronger and gives her a distinct personality, and that is why each has i…

The Girl With Nine Wigs: A Memoir

by Sophie van der Stap

Overall Book Review:

I bet most everyone knows someone with cancer. It is a sad reality, and one that we are all learning to live with and to accept. Sophie van der Staap is one of many women diagnosed with cancer that turned to writing to help her cope with the tragedy she must endure. With a sense of wit and humor, Sophie wrote her memoir in a sort of journalistic style, with each chapter laid out as a “day”. In this way, I found myself walked, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, through her days as a cancer patient.

But wait! Cancer is not the whole of this story. There are also several other subjects addressed–wigs, for one, and living life in the midst of tragedy, another. I enjoyed Sophie’s spirit of happiness and hope, even when she was facing a huge road block. Women are expected to be beautiful in our society, and one way we dress up is to do our hair. But if one loses their hair (and not just our luscious locks, but also eyebrows and eyelashes), it is hard to feel beautiful or look normal. Ms. van der Staap finds a remedy to her hair loss by buying wigs. She doesn’t stop there though; she takes it one step further. Each and every one of her wigs gives her a different look, and thus a different personality. This part of her story really lent a lot of humor to a dire situation.

It might be helpful, or at least interesting to know that this book is also a movie. Though this book is just now being published in the United States, a movie under the same name was released in 2013. I think I may have to watch it after having read the book. Whether you read the book or watch the movie, I hope you are impacted by this story in a good way, and that when a tough situation shows up in your life, maybe you too can put on a brave face, and find your inner strength, just like Sophie did by putting on a wig.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 4 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory names; 6 scatological words; 2 anatomical terms; 2 offensive hand gestures; 5 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  A minor is mentioned to die from leukemia; an adult is extremely sick and dies from the illness; a brief scene involving needles and surgery is described.

Sex/Nudity:  Adults kiss; characters are referred to as “sexy” or looking “sexy” several times; an adult asks another of the opposite sex if they would like to stay over; a woman laments her pubic hair is gone, makes a joke; a woman looks at her breasts while she is nude in the shower; a woman describes breasts as sagging; on page 127 there is a scene between two unmarried adults where undressing occurs, touching, kissing, and sex also occur with some brief detail; a woman talks about seducing a man; adults mentioned to sleep together; a man and woman are mentioned to take a bath together with no detail.

Mature Subject Matter:

Personal crises, death, terminal illness, cancer, divorce, spirituality.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Smoking a joint is mentioned; a woman drinks rum; adults drink alcoholic beverages.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.