I recently had the pleasure of being invited to read and review a book called Salt In My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith. This is my review.
Mallory lived with Cystic Fibrosis and passed away November 15/2017 at the age of 25. For 10 years she kept a journal of her life and near the end, she asked her mom to turn it into a book so others could read it and understand what it was like to be a young woman with a fatal disease. I’ve never been more moved by a book that this one…let me tell you about it.
Salt In My Soul starts when Mallory was 15 years old. She had been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 3, and learned to live with mass amounts of medication, physical treatments to help clear her lungs of mucous and multiple hospitalizations. Hawaii was her home away from home and a place where she felt the most comfortable – on the beach and in the water surfing, hence, the “salt” in her soul. Salt water was good for her lungs and being surrounded by the ocean was always a comfort for Mallory.
Her family consisted of her Mom, Dad and brother and she was super close to her grandparents as well. She had many friends who adored her and she was an excellent student despite missing so much school. After graduating high school, she went on to attend Stanford University in California because of their excellent courses and their proximity to treatment for her CF. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and went on to become a writer, helping to edit books as well as focus on her own writing.
Mallory lived a full life despite CF. Her motto was “Live Happy” and she fought to do that in even the toughest circumstances. She developed close friendships with other CF patients and wrote about their struggles as well, including a couple who underwent double lung transplants.
Mallory also wrote about falling in love. She met Jack in May of 2016 and they quickly became best friends and then committed partners. I laughed as she wrote about not wanting to say “I love you” first, but it’s clear from her writing that they were both in love fairly quickly. Jack was ever by her side for whatever she needed and they were a wonderful couple together. Jack was with Mallory right to the very end of her life and was much loved by all of Mallory’s family as well.
The story covers Mallory’s life from High School to University, to graduation and entering the working world and keeps the reader enthralled throughout. I was in tears many times, but also struck by Mallory’s resilience as she faced months of IV treatment. Her spirit takes so many hits but she continued to fight on despite constant infections and hospitalizations. When she finally got a chance for a double lung transplant, I was cheering her on and was left sobbing afterwards when she ultimately passed away.
This book is a must-read for anyone who lives with Chronic Illness, or who needs to be reminded that there are people out there who do. Mallory’s spirit was generous in love and encouragement to others, and her honesty in telling her own story is so touching. She writes about the painful parts without flinching and makes you fall in love with her. I wish the outcome had been different – she was a gifted writer and I would have loved to have read more from her. I’m thankful she kept a journal and shared her life with us, as there is much to learn here about courage, love and strength.
I highly recommend this book. It’s published by Spiegal & Grau, an imprint of Random House and the ISBN for the Hard Back is 9781984855428
You can purchase this book on Amazon.com using this link.