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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
If there’s ever been a champion of turning lemons into lemonade, it must be Joy Clausen Soto in her unforgettable memoir Joy: The Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor—and now to be added, successful author. “Joy” is aptly titled because it is the emotion that permeates this inspiring self-portrait. We first meet the heroine of the autobiography as, wrapped in a blanket, she is being carried into the emergency room, her life endangered by a seriously low white blood cell count in the midst of her treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Talk about lemons! Then we retreat a few years to the slow evolution of the opening scene. Now we’re in Chicago with Joy training for the swim trial to become a dolphin trainer for SeaWorld San Diego. In practice, she can’t make it holding her breath twice across the pool as required, but she catches a flight and gives it a try anyway and makes it! Thus, off we go into a land of ups and downs that would make any normal human give up numerous times but not this determined young woman named Joy, an emotion she spreads wherever she goes.
Joy: The Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor is one of those transcendent life stories, captured in perfectly placed photographs, that will put a smile on a cynic’s face and a tear in the eye of the hardest of hearts. Joy’s motto comes from her stepmom: “You are exactly where you are supposed to be.” Joy takes looking at the bright side to its outer limits. Whether it’s job pressure, a near-death struggle with cancer, the passing of cherished loved ones, and dating catastrophes, even the uncertainty of bearing children, Joy clings to hope and refuses to surrender. Bald, exhausted, misdiagnosed, a double port in her chest, chemo, and transfusions, yet supported by the love of family, friends, caregivers, music, and indelible faith, she moves ahead. And now she crowns her transformative life journey with this literary jewel. Joy is her name, the name of this brightest of memoirs, and the attitude that pervades every line of her sparkling prose. Put simply and with the greatest enthusiasm, Joy: the Story of a Dolphin Trainer, Filmmaker, and Cancer Survivor by Joy Clausen Soto is a masterpiece of inspiration not to be missed!