Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss
Review by Michelle DelPonte
I finished reading Shirley Melis’ Banged Up Heart a week ago and I still can’t get it out of my mind. It has changed my views on my work, faith, family, friends, and marriage. Shirley discusses her concerns with her husband’s medical treatment. As a healthcare worker, I failed to see the patients’ family’s view. I failed to see how scared they can be, as well as dependent. I never saw how their lives changed as their family member declined or passed on. I always feel that life is about quality, not quantity, but I see people suffer every day. Not a day has gone by that I have looked at any of my residents in the same light, no matter what they are going through.
I have gained a better understanding and empathy for their families.
While I am a firm believer of God and His work, I understand that there are scientists and Atheists in this world. While suffering is a part of life, I turn to my faith to get through it. I have failed to understand how anyone can live without that hope. Shirley points out that John is a man of science, not of God. She doesn’t dwell on the issue, but it was enough for me to understand how others live through the hard times without faith. It was intriguing to see how her life does not lack in any way, without the connection to faith that I depend on.
Without God to turn to, Shirley’s life is filled with friends that she can depend on throughout this process. As an introvert, I tend to be more of a loaner. Banged Up Heart has shown me the importance of putting yourself out there. While Shirley lost her first husband suddenly, it was through friends that she met John and fell in love. She chose to live life to the fullest, long before her first husband, and ongoing today.
Marrying John, Shirley gave everything to him. She willingly opened her life, heart, mind, and bed to trying new things. She wanted to know everything about her new husband. She submitted to John’s desires and grew in her own way. When John became terminal, he considered ending his own life. He briefly considered Shirley ending her own life as he did his. I don’t know how I would react to my husband mentioning that, but I was thoroughly impressed that Shirley educated herself so she could make the best decision for herself. While Shirley chose life, to dance with the pain, she went through the storms with her head held high.
I cannot say enough about this amazing book, and even more amazing Shirley herself. She is a true inspiration for all ages.
Paperback: 300 Pages
Genre: Memoir/Non Fiction
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (February 14, 2017)
Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is available in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.
Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Loss is an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early—and of the strength it takes to fall deeply in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again.
When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend’s husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership— until a mysterious bump on John’s forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine.
The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine. More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss—a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.
Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.
A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.
Shirley can also be found online at:
Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing for allowing me an opportunity to participate in this book blog tour!
Be sure to check out some of the future blog stops on this tour:
Feb 16 @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Fellow memoir writer Madeline Sharples interviews Shirley Melis about her book Banged Up Heart. Don't miss this heart felt interview about courage and love.
Feb 17 @ Jerry Waxler
Coach and Author Jerry Waxler shares his thoughts after reading Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
Feb 20 @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal J. Casavant-Otto shares her review after reading the touching and inspiring memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
Feb 21 @ Deb Blanchard
Teacher Deb Blanchard gives insight into "Banged Up Heart" the touching memoir by Shirley Melis.
Feb 22 @ Bring on Lemons with Angela Williams
Angela Williams reviews Shirley Melis's Banged Up Heart.
Feb 23 @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Don't miss today's interview between memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro and Shirley Melis. Find out more about Melis and her memoir Banged Up Heart.
Feb 23 @ Writer’s Pay it Forward
MC Simon interviews Shirley Melis about her novel Banged Up Heart for readers at Writers Pay it Forward. Don't miss this courageous memoir.
Feb 24 @ Memoir Writers Journey with Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler shares her thoughts with readers of Memoir Writer's Journey - find out what Pooler has to say about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
Feb 27 @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator and Entrepreneur Cathy Hansen reads and reviews Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis. You'll want to stop by Bring On Lemons today for your chance to learn more about this touching and encouraging memoir.
Feb 28 @ Bring on Lemons with Cindi Ashbeck
Cindi Ashbeck shares her thoughts after reading the touching story Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
March 1 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.
March 2 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.
March 3 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.
Please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question - it's great hearing from YOU!
About today’s guest reviewer:
Michelle DelPonte is a busy mom and health care worker. Her two sons are the focus of her life and she works diligently to raise awareness about autism in the community. She loves reading, anything to do with history and geocaching just to name a few of her many hobbies. Michelle, her husband Ben and their two sons Sebastian and Asher live in Manitowoc, WI on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan where they enjoy walking and biking on the Mariner’s Trail and spending time at the Library.