My Every Breath

A Memoir of love, loss and hope

Non-Fiction - Memoir
326 Pages
Reviewed on 07/18/2019
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Author Biography

I wrote this memoir with Karen Emilson to give hope and to give inspiration to families dealing with Cystic Fibrosis or any chronic disease. I am so thankful to still be alive as I love life even if mine was hard and heavy at times. I wished I had inspiration and hope when I was young and even now to move forward. I also wrote this memoir for self healing as at times it would have been easier to just give up but that option was not in my nature. I will fight for life till the end.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Kayti Nika Raet for Readers' Favorite

My Every Breath by Anna Maynard with Karen Emilson is an autobiography detailing her experiences growing up living with Cystic Fibrosis during the late 60 and early 70s. Using photos from that time, Maynard shares a more personalized look at the disease and what life was like at a time when the life expectancy of a child with Cystic Fibrosis was just fourteen years old. Her older sister France also had Cystic Fibrosis but unfortunately died at just fourteen years old. What Maynard does well is to share her story in such a way that we feel each moment she goes through in a visceral way. With the blessing of time and a double lung transplant, she is able to look back on her childhood, as well as the life she's lived that would have seemed impossible fifty years ago. Now a mother and a grandmother, tragedy unfortunately strikes her life again with the murder of her mother and a subsequent trial in 2013.

Throughout the book, Maynard shows her resilience in the face of adversity. I thought My Every Breath was pretty well written. The photos add a lot to the story as well as the words detailing Maynard's life. She has a way with words that help the reader not only gain an understanding of Cystic Fibrosis but also feel the highs and lows of emotion as Maynard goes through triumph and adversity. In My Every Breath, Anna Maynard crafts an evocative collection of words and images that is sure to sit with the reader long after the last page is turned. I enjoyed every passage and feel that My Every Breath would be a great read for anyone looking for a first-hand account of Cystic Fibrosis and its early treatment.

K.C. Finn

My Every Breath is self described as ‘A Memoir of Love, Loss and Hope’, a biography penned by author Anna Maynard with Karen Emilson. Charting the course of a very difficult life filled with hardships, grief, and sheer perseverance, this is the story of Anna Maynard, who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as a six-month-old baby. Her older sister, France, also suffered from the condition, and in the 1960s, children with CF were not expected to survive to adulthood. But Anna does survive and experiences the harrowing changes in medicine and treatment as the decades go by, with some incredible twists of fate along the way.

Although author Anna Maynard’s battle with Cystic Fibrosis takes center stage with Karen Emilson’s assistance, there is so much more to the incredible life that unfolds between the pages of this inspiring and fascinating memoir. The initial set-up contains some interesting poems and extracts, but it is the prologue which sets up such an amazing chain of events for us to follow through Anna’s life. Add to this the stunning quality of the writing, bringing this memoir to life in the same way as the most imaginative works of fiction do with solid descriptions, well-chosen exposition moments and personal touches like photographs. I couldn’t get enough of this fascinating family and the emotional journey that Anna takes her readers on. Overall, My Every Breath is a heartfelt and exceedingly well-written biographical work which comes very highly recommended for true life non-fiction fans.

Vincent Dublado

Memoirs and autobiographies are therapeutic. It helps to release pent up emotions especially when it involves a great deal of suffering. In a greater sense, it helps to reach out to people who find common ground in the author’s experience. My Every Breath is a helpful book that reaches out to inspire emotional and spiritual strength. It is highly probable for any reader to feel that they are far more blessed and realize that others out there face heavier adversity but manage to stand tall. Written by Canadian-born Anna Maynard with Karen Emilson, this book brims with the simple yet effective conveyance of a reality that pokes every reader in the eye. Maynard was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a time when medical breakthroughs had not yet found an effective intervention to prolong the life expectancy of children affected with such a disorder. As she fights for a normal life, her older sister succumbs to the same disorder. In her adult years, Maynard had to face the man who murdered her mother.

The book chronicles the order of events in Maynard’s growing up years. As a child, she was raised in a humble Canadian household. She and her sister France were both sickly, enduring the same agony of physiotherapy sessions. Maynard here introduces her first thoughts on suffering. Her message comes across loudly with a sense of commiseration that she takes back as she finds strength in facing the odds. The latter part of the book proceeds to her struggles as a frail adult dealing with the untimely loss of her mother. As an experienced-based account, the validity of Maynard’s suffering is well-presented. It is both a spiritual and philosophical approach to the inner workings of man’s capacity to endure. For anyone who finds a connection in any of Maynard’s struggles, My Every Breath can provide encouragement.

Romuald Dzemo

My Every Breath by Anna Maynard with Karen Emilson has a very apt subtitle: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Hope. Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the early age of six months old, Anna grew up fighting to have a normal life. Her elder sister, Frances, succumbed to the same illness. While suffering from a condition that has led her to have a double lung transplant, one of the devastating losses of her life was the murder of her mother. In this memoir, Anna chronicles her life from childhood, the physiotherapies, and her struggles to survive against all odds. It’s a tale of resilient hope and one woman’s will to trump adversity and death and to live with hope.

The story opens in the courtroom as Anna watches the man who killed her mother step into the room, handcuffed and looking very fit. She struggles with thoughts of forgiveness, wondering if she can ever forgive the man who took away the one person who mattered most to her. “People say I should forgive him, it does no good to hold onto hate. I’ve promised myself that throughout the trial I will search for something— anything—to give me a reason to let it go. But I already know it won’t be simple. I’ve lived a challenging life, and he took away the one person who was always there for me. He is the man who murdered my mother.” The memoir is tightly written and highly observant. Readers encounter a woman born with a medical condition that would set her life expectancy at twelve, but her desire to live and her resilience keeps her fighting against every challenge, propelling her to choices that would lead to a normal and productive life. My Every Breath is an inspiring story, filled with light and hope, a tale of grit and acceptance. A must-read!

Rabia Tanveer

At six months of age, Anna Maynard was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Back then, the life expectancy of any child with a genetic disorder was 14 years or even less. She lost an older sister to the disease and she knew from the beginning that her outlook was not good. However, she had one thing that her sister didn’t. She was determined to survive and have a normal life in which she was not dependent on anyone. She wanted to be independent; she wanted to be productive and wanted her hope to remain alive. This disease is not that easy to fight; however, she was determined to come out alive, kicking, and a winner.

My Every Breath: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Hope by Anna Maynard with Karen Emilson is a book about the resilience of a woman who was determined to live. Anna’s story is heartbreaking yet very inspiring. You cannot help but feel awed by a woman who was basically told that she would not live past her early teens, yet she fought and clawed her way up just so that she could survive. Her journey wasn’t easy and she knew that it would never be easy, but she was willing to defy the odds. Her story gives courage to people who are going through tough times and proves that, with willpower, you can fight any battle and win it. The author did not hold back when it came to sharing the not so good parts of Anna’s life. She left the information in its raw form so that it was more impactful and almost left me breathless. Anna is a warrior and a survivor, one that would give you a boost. A very encouraging story.

Suzette Masters

Thank you Anna for sharing your life story! It is very interesting and inspiring. I feel privileged to be a small part of your childhood! It sure brought back alot of memories. Once you start reading it, you can't put it down. I highly recommend everyone read this book. "You are my sunshine"

Suzette Masters

Thank you Anna for sharing your life story! It is very interesting and inspiring. I feel privileged to be a small part of your childhood! It sure brought back alot of memories. Once you start reading it, you can't put it down. I highly recommend everyone read this book. "You are my sunshine"

Agnes Gosselin

This well written true story is an amazing memoir that depicts the life of an extraordinary woman who deals with a life threatening disease and much much more. Her strength is truly inspirational. Great read for anyone.