For the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed reading Hug Everyone You Know by Antoinette Truglio Martin and write an honest review. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Martin and talk about her works. Nothing has been altered in her answers, everything is in her own words.
About the Author
(Copied from Martin’s author’s page) Antoinette Truglio Martin is a speech therapist and special education teacher by training but really wants to be a writer when she grows up. She has been collecting writing and fashioning stories forever. Over the years, Antoinette had been a regular columnist in local periodicals and had several essays featured in newsletters and literary reviews. Her children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup was published in 1993 (Albert Whitman Co.) She proudly holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University (2016)
The Synopsis of “Hug Everyone You Know”
Antionette Martin believed herself to be a healthy and sturdy woman – that is until she received a stage one breast cancer diagnosis. Cancer is scary enough for the brave, but for a wimp like Martin, it was downright terrifying. Martin had to swallow waves of nausea at the thought of her body being poisoned and frequently fainted during blood draws and transfusions. To add to her terror, cancer suddenly seemed to be all around her. In the months that followed her diagnosis, a colleague succumbed to cancer and five of her friends were also diagnosed.
Though tempted, Martin knew she could not hide in bed for ten months. She had a devoted husband, daughters and a tribe of friends and relations. Along with work responsibilities, there were graduations, anniversaries and roller derby bouts to attend. Not to mention a house to sell and a summer full of beach bumming to enjoy. In order to harness support without scaring herself or anyone else, she journaled her experiences and began to e-mail the people who loved her- the people she called My Everyone. She kept them informed and reminded all to “Hug Everyone You Know.” Reading their responses became her calming strategy. Ultimately, with the help of her community, Martin found the courage within herself to face cancer with perseverance and humor.
Being a breast cancer survivor myself, this book hit close to home.
A detailed memoir of her journey once diagnosed with breast cancer stage one. Martin shows courage and even some humor while battling this horrible disease.
Bringing the reader into her now, disruptive world, Martin shares personal emails from family and friends, referring to them as; “My Everyone.” A group of loved ones where she found support and encouragement.
Martin expresses the importance of reaching out and how a diagnosis of cancer affects not only the patient but also everyone around them. Embracing all of those her around her, she found strength and a will to fight.
This is a must-read for anyone whose life has been affected by cancer. Sharing her personal battle and giving others hope. I wish I had read it when I was diagnosed five years ago.
Martins battle spans over eleven years, first diagnosed in 2007, her cancer returned in 2014 and has spread to her spine. She continues to fight and is doing whatever she can to keep cancer at bay. She is in my thoughts and like Martin says: “Hug Everyone You Know.”
COVER DESIGN – 3 stars – Based on my own personal taste – others may love it. The cover was a little bland for me. The colors didn’t pop, the artwork didn’t excite me and I think the author’s name should have been more pronounced on the cover.
CHARACTERIZATION – 5 stars – By the end of the book, I really felt like I knew Antoinette. She did a great job bringing the reader into her world, sharing her fears and her family history.
STORY & PLOT – 5 stars – An honest memoir, leaving out no details and providing encouragement and knowledge to anyone dealing with cancer
OVERALL RATING – 4 stars
1 – How long have you been writing and why do you enjoy it?
I was always writing. As a child, I wrote on notepaper and little memo books. I made cards filled with my (awful) poetry. I bossed my sisters to act in my plays and wrote epic stories with no endings. I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, but my parents did not think a career as a writer was a smart choice. “You’ll starve.” was the consistent reply.
I kept diaries as a child and later called them journals. There are piles of notebooks chronicling my thoughts. My feelings and secrets could never be articulated clearly. I found my voice through writing. I wrote in my journal during that first year with cancer to keep myself focused and as calm as possible. This allowed me to communicate with my family and friends—My Everyone—via the emails. When I was re-diagnosed almost five years later with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), I went back to that old journal and saved emails. While writing the story, I saw that I did hone courage and that it would be possible to navigate through this next diagnosis.
2 – Other than writing, what else do you like to do?
Anything that has to with a beach; swim in the ocean, walk the shore, sun worship. I sail small boats and don’t mind fishing as long as the sea is calm, and I can bring a book. Playing with grandbabies and cooking for my family and friends are also my passion.
3 – What inspired you to write “Hug Everyone You Know?”
Hug Everyone You Know chronicles my first year of cancer as a wimpy patient. When I was diagnosed with MBC, I was even more scared. While reading over my journal and the emails from the first diagnosis helped me see that I was equipped to handle it. I could navigate through this new diagnosis because of the incredible love and support from My Everyone.
It was hard to write. I didn’t want to confront that fear again. This time there is no end in sight and it may kill me. But I had to write it for my daughters, husband, my parents, and myself. I have been very fortunate, so very fortunate, that this new tumor was caught early before any real damage. To date, treatment has not been debilitating nor does it intrude too much. The cancer is a story in my life; not the story of my life.
As I was writing and sharing excerpts and pieces, I was given kind and constructive feedback. Many exclaimed that it was a story that needed to be told. It could offer so much hope to so many. It is not only for women with breast cancer. It is pertinent to all women, men, and the families and friends who have been touched by cancer. I hope that my book gives others hope and courage to reach out to their communities and live a life full of stories.
4 – Who as an author, inspires you and why?
I do love an epic storyteller. A story set in a time and place that is far away yet familiar with characters that stay with me like an old friend, intrigues me. It makes me want to be able to tell a story as clear, real, and amazing. My grandmother was an oral storyteller. She retold and ranted through facts (according to her view), incidences, and trespasses at the dinner table. She weaved memorable tales.
5 – Name five of your favorite books and authors. Explain why these are your favorites.
I enjoy reading anything by Neil Gaiman and Jodi Picoult. They are able to construct different worlds and stories that captivate. I am getting through the Elena Ferrante series. She beautifully establishes moods and emotions and stays consistent throughout. This past year I read fantastic historical fiction (a favorite genre) by indie authors such as Ashley Sweeney (Eliza Waite: A Novel), Anjali Mitter Duva (Faint Promise of Rain), and Laurel Davis Huber (The Velveteen Daughter: A Novel). These stories are well researched, and the characters, settings, and stories feel absolutely authentic.
6 – What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Keep at it. There is a reason why you’re writing. It will show itself only if you keep writing.
7 – Are you currently working on anything now? If so, tell us a little about it and when it can be expected to be available.
I am always working on something. Currently, I am collecting family stories. My website, Stories Served Around The Table (www.antoinettetrugliomartin.com), features stories that have been told and retold. I am fascinated by my family’s immigrant tales and how my parents grew up in Brooklyn, New York. My mother’s side of the family had incredible stories. They may have been tough people to like, but they were wonderful storytellers.
I am actively working on a historical fiction middle grade novel based on my grandmother’s childhood. I am delving into the history of Italian immigrants living, working, going to school on the lower east side of New York City during the dawn of the 20th century. It is exciting to get lost in the whole process. Right now, it is in the scribbling stage, so a launch date is not yet in view.
8- What genre do you normally write in?
I love children’s lit. My picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup, was published in 1993 by Albert Whitman & Company. It was in print in for almost sixteen years in hardcover, paperback, Big Book and Spanish. I love writing for and with children. Every little thing is a wonder. As an author, I can speak to children so much better than adults.
9- Other than Amazon is there anywhere else, readers can purchase your book?
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2r5OtWt
Bookstores everywhere (order ahead)
10- Do you have a website, Facebook page or any other social media page where readers can follow you? If yes, please provide links.
11- Is there anything else you would like to say?
I have been told that this cancer in me is supposed to be forever, but I am not buying it. I truly believe a cure will be found in my lifetime. Such incredible strides have been realized in just the past ten years. Research and science are so close. I may be walking around with a time bomb, but I have not been given an expiration date. This is now true for so many MBC patients. I would like to ask your readers to support the research and science efforts in making it possible to kick metastatic cancer out of our life stories.
And be sure to hug everyone you know.
Antoinette Truglio Martin
Writer & Teacher
Thank you, Antoinette, for allowing me to interview you, it has been an honor, you are an inspiration to many women.