May 2021 Book of the Month

“3/4 FULL” by Peggy Gaines

Reviewed by Anita Finley

This book is truly an inspiration. When a mother writes about her precious 17-year-old son who leaves this Earth so early in his life, she must have the right words, the thoughts that stay inside, yearning to explode to tell how hard it is not to have him anymore. Peggy Gaines, a skilled writer, explains every moment from the time that Nathan, her son, is diagnosed with brain cancer. “How can that be?” she thought. I wouldn’t call this a diary of the family’s life dealing with their son’s diagnosis, but when you read it, you will feel, as I did, a part of the family as it takes you along the path of life’s struggles.

Every normal parent thinks their child is the best, smartest, kindest and the angel they bore. As Peggy tells us, her son, Nathan, had so many of these qualities, from the conversations she described. I never knew him, but I felt love and good feelings about him. I accompanied them to the many doctors as they searched for answers. It was amazing how well Peggy and her husband managed the situation, but I didn’t know if Nathan was holding them up or if they were the pillars. So why would someone want to read about a sad story unless it reminded them of a similar situation? Yes, that is one good reason, but more than that, since I didn’t lose a child, it helped me to understand about life and its fragility. No one is here forever, but when one is only 17 years old, it brings up issues to take notice of…before it is too late.

3/4 Full is very few in pages, but huge in inspiration, kindness, creativeness, and passion. The author, Peggy Gaines, dedicates her book to her husband, her daughter and of course, the reason she wrote it, to her son, Nathan. Each chapter has an appropriate quote that sets the stage of the chapter’s meaning. Here are a few: “We must let go of the life we have planned to accept the one that’s waiting for us” (Joseph Campbell); “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” (Fred Devito); “For life and death are one even as the river and the sea are one” (Khalil Gibran). Also, at the end of each chapter, there is a lesson. Here is one: “Lesson 6…Your life situation will always have challenges. The goal of life is to be present and to try to find the lesson the challenge is offering you.” “Lesson 9…Don’t take tomorrow for granted. Don’t wait to tell someone that you love them.”

After reviewing books for the past 20 plus years, I have never read such a beautiful love story of a family dealing with the loss of their teenage son. No matter what your loss, you will appreciate this book.

About the author:
Peggy Gaines, RN, BSN, is a nurse educator and is nationally certified as a Clinical Meditation Specialist. She has been meditating for 18 years and has been teaching meditation for 6 years. She and husband, Michael have two children, Heather and Nathan. At 17, Nathan developed a malignant brain tumor and she relied on meditation to stay calm and focused as she and her husband navigated the care for their son. She and her husband live in Coconut Grove, Florida.