Memoir About Family Battling Cystic Fibrosis Receives 4 Stars from Portland Book Review

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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books, escapism

Portland Book Review (PBR) has given four stars to a new book, “There Are No Alligators in Heaven!,”  that describes the hardships of a family   struggling with cystic fibrosis (CF).

The book is centered around Jennifer Hale, who was diagnosed with CF at the age of 2 but lived to be 43 — at a time when the average life expectancy for a CF patient was only 15. The book is based on conversations between Hale’s parents, Donna Codell and Evan Michael Codell; it also draws on  Hale’s own writings.

AlligatorsIn a press release, Whitney Smyth, PBR’s editor-in-chief, says the 224-page paperback “manages to be many things: a heartfelt biography, a record of cystic fibrosis treatments over the last few decades, a self-help parenting guide to parents of children with cystic fibrosis, and most importantly, a celebration of life.”

Smyth gave the “inspiring” book a four-star review for its ability to detail a family’s perspectives on surviving the unrelenting consequences of a CF diagnosis. She said dthe book blends the different perspectives well and is divided into “clear sections that are easy to navigate… and to read.”

Hale’s parents initiated the book project in late 2016 as a tribute to their daughter. In it, they lead readers through Hale’s entire life, from birth to death, and how they continued their lives after her passing in December 2015.

“They paint a picture of a normal family, refusing to whitewash their experience to leave out the darker times and struggles, the personality clashes, or the various illnesses and complications,” Smyth said. “This is not a biography with a happy ending, but even so, it is one that manages to be inspiring and is well worth the read.”

CF isn’t the only illness described in the book. Hale’s father had lung cancer; among other things, the book includes a last interview with him conducted on Dec. 12, 2016, just two days before his death.

As the surviving author, Donna Codell hopes the family’s story can bring hope and strength to others battling similar circumstances.

“There Are No Alligators in Heaven!” is published by Starshine Galaxy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to share stories by and about children who have passed away. It is now available in print format for $14.95 on platforms like Amazon and other online booksellers. Amazon also has a Kindle version available for $6.99.