Book Reviews

Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy by Manjusha Pawagi

I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I finished reading this book, my first thought was, “oh shit, I have to review it now”. Because, how do you review the memoir of a woman’s journey after she was diagnosed with leukemia? I don’t want to pick through this book! I just want to tell you why I thought think this woman is amazing and why you should read her story.

Goodreads synopsis:

34812533Manjusha Pawagi, a successful family court judge, has written a not-so-typical memoir about her experience with cancer. Wryly funny and stubbornly hopeful, this is her quirky take on what it’s like to face your own mortality when, to be honest, you thought you’d live forever. She describes how even the darkest moments of life can be made worse with roommates; details how much determination it takes to ignore the statistics; and answers the age-old question: what does it take to get a banana popsicle around here?


This is a memoir of Manjusha’s journey after being diagnosed with cancer. In this book, she doesn’t hold back. She takes the reader out for a spin, through the cancer ward. She gives out all the details about the disease, including whole paragraphs about mutations, chromosomes, and a square dance.

But, this is not all this book is about. She talks about weird roommates in the cancer ward, craving a banana popsicle, and grappling with facing her mortality. As one of the reviewers remark, this book is both heartbreaking and uplifting. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want to get to talk to Manjusha for 2 minutes. And, I mean Manjusha the author, not Manjusha the cancer survivor. This book is not all about the disease, and that’s exactly why I loved it. In between no-holds-barred explanations about ileostomy bags, she also tells us how she tried to set up her doctor with a friend.

She’s humorous and she’s philosophical. This could be just me, but I felt that some of her opinions about life and hope are extremely relatable. Look at this little gem:

“You think that if you are prepared for a catastrophe, it will not happen. I think of it in terms of circumvention. Because the gods don’t like it when your expectations are met, you trick them, by expecting something bad.”

Story break: Once, my mom was getting this slight scan thing done for her heart, it’s called an angiogram. It’s a small procedure where they insert a dye into your heart to see if the dye gets pooled around any blockages–it helps detect clots in the heart. (Sorry, biomed student here. πŸ˜€ ). Anywho, the nurses had so many waivers for us to sign, about things that could go wrong during the scan. Since you’ve signed them, if something does go wrong, you signed stuff that did warn you that things could go downhill. This is how Manjusha’s wit comes into picture in this book, about all the waivers:

“It occurs to me that the Hippocratic oath, rather than the “First do no harm” of popular belief, should actually be “You can’t say we didn’t warn you.””

Manjusha Pawagi writes her story with a brilliant sense of humor, and I would recommend this book to everyone. I believe that she was brave to battle cancer and I’m happy she’s alright now. As it’s said in the closing chapters in the book, “It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.” So, thank you, Manjusha, for sharing with us the tale of a bunch of stuff that happened to you.

If there are no stories, there are no gods.

Rating: 5 out of 5

What did you think of my review? Would you read this book? Let me know in the comments!

~ Shruti

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16 thoughts on “Love and Laughter in the Time of Chemotherapy by Manjusha Pawagi


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahahaha, I don’t think I’ll ever not laugh at your ALL CAPS comments.πŸ˜‚ My review is precise? Ha! I’m wondering if I should be modest or go all Phoebe Buffay and say “I know”. What, I never said I wasn’t weird.πŸ˜‚

      You should contact WordPress support if this is a regular thing. I’m sure they’ll help you out.😊 It was weird when I got a notification that you followed me. I was all “umm, no, that’s my personal cheerleader and she’s been following me for a while now”.πŸ˜‚πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done. and on a sidenotr, after living 58 Years on this big pair of blue balls. I never wish anyone a long life,i wish them a life well lived. The thought of anyone living with the indudiousness of cancer, for years, pains me,.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “I never wish anyone a long life, I wish them a life well lived.”–this is AMAZING! This is what everyone should wish for!

      Thanks for stopping by and mentioning this line that I’ll be quoting for years to come! πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Shurti, this is a great review for a really wonderful book. I got to read it in advance and I loved it. Who would have thought that a story about cancer could be so life affirming? It’s funny, too. I made the mistake of reading it on an airplane and both laughed out loud (something I never do) and cried a few times. Thanks for shining a light on an important book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m so glad you liked the book too! It’s both funny and sad, but overall, like you rightly put it, life affirming.

      Have you read When Breath Becomes Air? It’s another book about cancer that makes you ugly cry, but at the same time, teaches you about life.


  4. Thanks, Shruti. I have ordered WBBA based on your recommendation. You’re like a book guru! If you are even in Toronto, I would love to introduce your to Manjusha Pawagi and our other book-writing friend, Terry Fallis. If you make the trip, we’ll show you a good time (literarily speaking)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wait, you know them personally?! I would love to take you up on the offer! …if I ever make the trip to Toronto. πŸ™‚

      Thanks so much for offering! And, I’m no book guru. I just bully people into reading the handful of books I really enjoyed! 😁


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