The two main characters are Elizabeth Nye, a 20-year-old German major, and Brian Petersen, the 27-year-old history teaching assistant with whom she has a five-week affair while she's temporarily separated from her liberal-minded fiancé, Alan Abrams.Elizabeth is dishonest and selfish while Brian is naive and idealistic, but virtually no one in this story is either all good or all bad. That's what makes them people rather than stereotypes.
Minor and cameo characters include Elizabeth's self-indulgent academic father, her sexy younger sister, a not-so-merry widowed neighbor, Brian's excessively beloved older sister, his pined-after lost love, that woman's life-hardened lesbian roommate, and a gay friend of Elizabeth's.
The narrative technique involves the use of several different points of view. A given scene may allow the reader to see the same action from starkly contrasting points of view. This reinforces the overarching theme of the book, which is the unending difficulty of human communication.
Almost immediately after the operation, I became aware that there were unexpected benefits to be reaped from this experience, benefits which ended up changing my life and many of my attitudes.
Eventually I decided to write a book detailing those many benefits and my thoughts on a variety of topics related to health, health care, self-image, and the value of courage and optimism in the face of adversity.
Surviving breast cancer left me a happier, calmer, more focused, and more appreciative person. Now my principal message to other women is that breast cancer does not have to be an entirely negative, terror-inducing experience. On the contrary, it can leave them better off than they were before, both physically and emotionally. I know, because it happened to me. My book is primarily the story of that physical and emotional journey.
The five appendices offer a wealth of practical information on risk factors for breast cancer, ways to help prevent it, and much more.