What Readers Are Saying

“Barb’s Story drew me in from the beginning with its engaging, well-written prose and never let me go. Ms. Douglass took a moving and emotional story and transformed it into a powerful one by adding a generous amount of wit. Every step of the way, I wanted to learn more about Barb’s life, and by the end of the book, I wanted to be her friend.” — Yvonne Brigogni
“The cover of Susan Upton Douglass’s new novel Barb’s Story asks:
“What would you do with a second chance at life?” This story provides an answer that is at one level simple; Barb continues with her relatively normal life. In doing so, Susan celebrates a life that was cut short by cancer. A good human being who was fortunate enough to be truly loved. And with a loving and caring soul, always there to help, even if it just meant genuinely and patiently listening. Repeatedly, Barb, through Susan’s words, shows us how “being there” is often one of the most important steps we can take when those we care about face challenges, whether large, small, expected, or unfortunate. Barb’s Story also examines the painful issues that addiction causes in our society from different perspectives. Here is where Susan’s storytelling excels, taking Barb and us on an unexpected side trip, where the destination is approached on a road that many might not want to travel. Susan’s excursion reminds us that there really are 2 sides to each story. And despite appearances, life in its totality is never simple. For those readers who know Susan, they will especially enjoy the Susanisms throughout. In fact, I sometimes felt as if I were spending an afternoon with Susan. Susan, her family and Barb’s friends clearly loved and cared for Barb; she was an integral member of a community and her loss was devastating. This novel honors Barb and the life that could have been lived. But it’s not just about Barb. It’s Susan’s strong message to us all that someday we will look back and inevitably second-guess some of our life’s choices. Susan asks us to pause now and listen to our soul.” — Larry Apolzon
“Barb’s story was a wonderful surprise. Asking “what would you do with a second chance”, it was one person’s attempt to give her beloved sister’s life a better ending. In the process, it gives the reader the ability to imagine how we would change the endings of those we have lost, as well as imagine what we would like our own ending to be. As a very fortunate cancer thriver (I hate the word survivor), I spend more than a few minutes in thinking about these things, and Barb’s Story gave me welcome new perspectives. Done with humor, empathy and compassion, as well as a strong dose of common sense and accurate medical information, it was an easy and impactful read. I highly recommend it!” — Nancy LeWinter
“I didn’t want this book to end, so I was overcome with sadness when I finished reading Susan Upton Douglass’ beautifully written debut novel, BARB’S STORY. I can’t believe this riveting book was her first. It was difficult to let go of the characters I grew to admire, most of whom are based on Ms. Douglass’ real-life family and friends (with name changes of course). The unique premise of this novel has its author writing a second act for her sister Barb, whose life was tragically cut short by melanoma at the age of 48. Ms. Douglass gives voice to her sister who takes us on a journey as she experiences the ups and downs of daily living after surviving cancer, and all the milestone events that her short life was robbed of, e.g., birthday parties, family vacations, career changes, family drama and dysfunction, life-long friendships and, it also includes romance, love, and a suspenseful court-room drama. I rooted for Barb to do well as she conquered life’s obstacles, and I commiserated with her when things did not go her way. I found aspects of myself and my own family within the characters and the events revealed (as I’m sure other readers will find). By disclosing from the get-go that Barb’s real life ended at 48, the story is bittersweet, yet her second act is beautifully reimagined. It made me think of those in my life whose lives were cut short and how wonderful it would be to honor their memory by giving them a chance to reclaim all they missed, albeit in a book – but better that than not at all. Kudos to Ms. Douglass” — Michael DiGioia
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