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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Dorothy Paredes' 26 & Fu¢ked is the memoir of the author as she found herself in a position that no twenty-six-year-old woman should ever be in, and a world of rapid decisions to make. Paredes begins with a backstory that would match the lives of most young women at that age. Her life is normal to the point of being almost uneventful, taking her days in her stride and enjoying the company of friends and the occasional boyfriend. This all changes when a post-shower ritual lands her fingers on a lump in her breast. She trusts her better judgment and pursues the route that will give her a definitive answer despite being told repeatedly it was unnecessary. The one time when a woman would hope to be wrong, Paredes was proven right. She had breast cancer at the age of twenty-six.
The first thing that struck me as Dorothy Paredes narrates her story in 26 & Fu¢ked is how strong she is even before the diagnosis. Women who are or have been in a fight against cancer are regularly applauded for their strength as if there was actually a choice in the matter. Paredes was strong long before her diagnosis, dancing on a bar top at Coyote Ugly and absolutely insisting with an Ivy League-educated surgeon that she was going to have it checked and that was the end of the conversation. The avalanche that ensues begins as she's looking for a partner, now acutely aware of her emotional isolation and juggling a man who essentially ghosted her and another who was reliable, but not exactly bursting with sexual chemistry. The journey is incredible and I was most moved by her chapter titled The Reckoning, where the fiery strength of Paredes raises her to have absolute 100% dominion over her own agency as she asserts what is important to her and that there will be no short-changing the woman who had already been fu¢ked with enough. Very highly recommended.