INTO THE FUNHOUSE, a story of life

by Walter Harp

Verdict: A story of cancer, INTO THE FUNHOUSE: AN UNPREDICTABLE STORY OF A RELENTLESS LEUKEMIA will let you laugh through your tears as you celebrate being alive.

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Author Walter Harp begins his narrative with “I should have died—more than once. Yet I remain alive (at least for now), as can anyone with cancer, regardless of how dreadful the prognosis. People do beat the odds.”

What unfolds on the following pages is a story of life. Yes, Harp is diagnosed with a life-threatening and often debilitating disease, but ordinary daily life has a way of creeping in, and Harp relays it all beautifully. Between snippets about diagnostic tests, treatments, fear, and the challenges of acceptance, there is the wonderfully mundane. Passages about everyday living while your body is hurting make his story relatable.

The book begins with Harp finding out that he is ill. He goes in for a routine doctor’s appointment, notes that he is experiencing some lower back pain, and then the tests begin. For anyone who has been through the diagnosis process, this will hit home. Harp is overwhelmed by the multitude of appointments and tests and lands in the hospital with a panic attack as he awaits results; meanwhile, his doctors play detective about the drama that is playing out in his body.

Unlike many uplifting illness narratives, Harp allows us to see the nitty-gritty of being sick: how the treatment that is keeping you alive can also be what is killing you. He also lets us see into the effects of illness, like the lethargy and the fear as well as being annoyed with your mother. Harp recounts his journey through hallucinations, splicing in reality checks from his wife. Entire sections of the book read like gripping conversation, as if a couple you are close friends with are retelling the biggest, and scariest, adventure of their lives to you.

Harp is a good storyteller. He has broken his story of survival into short, easily digestible segments. This works well to his advantage as his subject matter is often heavy and occasionally upsetting. He inserts scientific information that the audience may not already know and dedicates himself to the truth, noting where his version of events may not match reality completely.

INTO THE FUNHOUSE is not a story of being healed and renewed; it is a story of a father, a husband, a dedicated employee, a man who is sick—who keeps on living despite it all, or perhaps, because of it all.

~Alexandra Rosenberg for IndieReader

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