The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles

Ranar Bitar’s The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. It follows the author’s life from childhood to the present. As an oncologist and writer, she manages to do what many people struggle with – interweaving the scientific with artistic.

She talks of her early childhood vividly and beautifully, almost as a child would, effectively transporting us to that time of her life. Having grown up in Syria and moving to the US to practice medicine in her early twenties, her story is a unique one – one that explores both the “American dream” and the true meaning of home. In the book, we see her embrace multiple facets of her identity – the Syrian, the American, the physician, and the writer. Ultimately, it is hard not to empathize with her.

The true focus of this book isn’t Rana – it’s her patients. These are the people that pull us in like a magnet. They carry heavy burdens, many struggling with gut-wrenching cancer diagnoses, some even terminal. It is hard to read how they live and sometimes die. It forces readers to confront their own mortality and that of loved ones and their complex feelings about that.

Throughout the book, we see how Rana’s different patients have coped with illness over the years and what she has learned and given to them. We read of those who used talking or humor to fill awkward silences, those who sat still in the thick of silence, those who buried themselves in work and distractions, those who broke down in tears, and those who tried to bargain with death. To say it was unsettling is an understatement – it is like staring into an abyss that you have been trying to ignore your whole life.

However, the author does an excellent job of not making this story all about sadness and suffering. Instead, she challenges readers to defy death – to look it in the eye and refuse to give it our today. She challenges readers to live each day fully and to embrace the fact that the temporary nature of our lives is what makes them precious. By interweaving her personal story of love and loss with that of her patients, she brings us in and makes us feel like we are not alone, even in death.

The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles is a beautifully-written memoir book that will tug at the heartstrings like no other. So much so that it can make you cry of both anguish and joy.

Pages: 353 | ASIN : B09BG58KCY

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About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on March 14, 2022, in Book Reviews, Five Stars and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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