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How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship

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A luminous memoir about how friendship saved one woman’s life, for anyone who has loved a friend who was sick, grieving, or lost—and for anyone who has struggled to seek or accept help Eva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age A luminous memoir about how friendship saved one woman’s life, for anyone who has loved a friend who was sick, grieving, or lost—and for anyone who has struggled to seek or accept help Eva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age thirty, an undiscovered mass in her brain ruptured. So did her life. A brain surgery marked only the beginning of a long journey, and when her illness hit a critical stage, it forced her to finally admit the long‑suppressed truth: she was vulnerable, she needed help, and she longed to grow. She needed true friendship for the first time.         How to Be Loved is the story of how an isolated person’s life was ripped apart only to be gently stitched back together through friendship, and the recovery—of many stripes—that came along the way. It explores the isolation so many of us feel despite living in an age of constant connectivity; how our ambitions sometimes pull us apart more than bring us together; and how a simple doughnut, delivered by a caring soul, can become the essence of what makes a life valuable. With gorgeous prose shot through with empathy, pain, fear, and the secret truths inside all of us, Eva writes about the friends who taught her to grow up and open her heart—and how the relentlessness of suffering can give rise to the greatest joy. 


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A luminous memoir about how friendship saved one woman’s life, for anyone who has loved a friend who was sick, grieving, or lost—and for anyone who has struggled to seek or accept help Eva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age A luminous memoir about how friendship saved one woman’s life, for anyone who has loved a friend who was sick, grieving, or lost—and for anyone who has struggled to seek or accept help Eva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age thirty, an undiscovered mass in her brain ruptured. So did her life. A brain surgery marked only the beginning of a long journey, and when her illness hit a critical stage, it forced her to finally admit the long‑suppressed truth: she was vulnerable, she needed help, and she longed to grow. She needed true friendship for the first time.         How to Be Loved is the story of how an isolated person’s life was ripped apart only to be gently stitched back together through friendship, and the recovery—of many stripes—that came along the way. It explores the isolation so many of us feel despite living in an age of constant connectivity; how our ambitions sometimes pull us apart more than bring us together; and how a simple doughnut, delivered by a caring soul, can become the essence of what makes a life valuable. With gorgeous prose shot through with empathy, pain, fear, and the secret truths inside all of us, Eva writes about the friends who taught her to grow up and open her heart—and how the relentlessness of suffering can give rise to the greatest joy. 

30 review for How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship

  1. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    How to be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship A rather uniquely written memoir about a woman who has a difficult time letting people get close. She finds herself an addicted alcoholic from trying to chill out and fit in, then later has to go to groups to get free of it. But it’s at the groups that she makes her first real friends of her life, Allison is the main one, and she’s much older. As time goes by, and they talk a bit and she gets to know Allison, she feels herself opening just a bit How to be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship A rather uniquely written memoir about a woman who has a difficult time letting people get close. She finds herself an addicted alcoholic from trying to chill out and fit in, then later has to go to groups to get free of it. But it’s at the groups that she makes her first real friends of her life, Allison is the main one, and she’s much older. As time goes by, and they talk a bit and she gets to know Allison, she feels herself opening just a bit to the idea of letting her in. They get along so well, and they are so good for each other, it’s not long before she feels herself opening more. Then Allison shares with Eva that she’s ill with cancer, that it’s come back again and it’s likely terminal this time; she just wanted her to know since they have become close. They rely on each other. Eva for Allison’s mature advice, helping her stay sober and teaching her about friendship. Allison for Eva’s help when she was having bad days from chemo or radiation treatments and needed Eva’s assistance. This is a good book about friendship and learning how to ask for help and accept it. Sometimes that’s the hardest part of all, just admitting you need someone’s help. I was glad I read it. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Eva Hagberg Fisher, and the publisher for my fair review. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - 240 pages Publication: Feb 5th, 2019 My BookZone blog: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Linden

    Poor little rich girl Eva—from European boarding school to Princeton to grad school at Berkeley, with plenty of sex, drugs, and alcohol along the way. Then she gets sick—really sick. Several surgeries, and there is still something wrong; could mold allergies be the cause? Doctors offer a variety of diagnoses— yes, women who are ill are often marginalized and their symptoms dismissed. She heads for Sedona to escape molds with Lauren who, after staying for 3 weeks, finally telling Eva she has to g Poor little rich girl Eva—from European boarding school to Princeton to grad school at Berkeley, with plenty of sex, drugs, and alcohol along the way. Then she gets sick—really sick. Several surgeries, and there is still something wrong; could mold allergies be the cause? Doctors offer a variety of diagnoses— yes, women who are ill are often marginalized and their symptoms dismissed. She heads for Sedona to escape molds with Lauren who, after staying for 3 weeks, finally telling Eva she has to get back to her life in Seattle. Eva marries someone who seems like a saint when she’s desperately ill. His parents offer their home, but the guest room in the basement is too moldy, so she takes over their bedroom for a month until they gently mention that they’d like it back. The friend she met at an AA meeting, Allison, mentions that Eva is “nothing if not self- centered,” which summarizes my impression of this author and her memoir.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nupur Govila

    Someone walked into my heart and wrote my story for me to read! All the words that have been floating around in my subconscious found their existence in this book. I have hardly ever been so overwhelmed by a book, maybe because it held up a mirror to my life. Beautifully written and with such simplicity and honesty, it moved me to tears at points. Kudos to the author! Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for this wonderful book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    Eva Hagberg Fisher writes one of the most beautiful memoirs I can remember - the prose is a joy to read as Fisher probes the depths of her independence and hard emotional shell that prevented her from enjoying deep friendships and romantic love. It is a book about the discovery of vulnerability through illness and the willingness to be human with others in order to attract and sustain love.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    This book was torture to read. I was halfway through it and there was still virtually nothing about the “friend.” This is a whiny memoir by a spoiled, rich white woman who is totally self-involved and annoying as hell. Just like the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    OUCH- this one got to me. I was mostly swayed by the beautiful cover and my desire to read up on other people's friendship, so I had no idea where Fisher was going to lead me. She details her journey into sobriety and then into sickness, just after befriending a much older woman (in her 60s to Fisher's 30s) who is already dying of metastasized breast cancer. I knew her friend, Alison, would die and yet I was still not prepared. She had such influence over Fisher's life and was a constant while s OUCH- this one got to me. I was mostly swayed by the beautiful cover and my desire to read up on other people's friendship, so I had no idea where Fisher was going to lead me. She details her journey into sobriety and then into sickness, just after befriending a much older woman (in her 60s to Fisher's 30s) who is already dying of metastasized breast cancer. I knew her friend, Alison, would die and yet I was still not prepared. She had such influence over Fisher's life and was a constant while she went through her own brush with death, having to endure first brain surgery and then heart surgery for two separate issues that just happened to hit her in the same span of time. While also learning how to be sick and both request and accept help from her friends, she also found and fell in love with her husband and became her own health care advocate as, in recovery from her heart repair, her immune system flairs and she has to prioritize getting well for good. It's a quick read and a good lesson for anyone, healthy or otherwise, reminding us that we can't make it through this life alone.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    “Everything that we deal with is the biggest thing.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- A luminous memoir about how friendship saved one woman’s life, for anyone who has loved a friend who was sick, grieving, or lost—and for anyone who has struggled to seek or accept help Eva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at ag I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher --- A luminous memoir about how friendship saved one woman’s life, for anyone who has loved a friend who was sick, grieving, or lost—and for anyone who has struggled to seek or accept help Eva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age thirty, an undiscovered mass in her brain ruptured. So did her life. A brain surgery marked only the beginning of a long journey, and when her illness hit a critical stage, it forced her to finally admit the long‑suppressed truth: she was vulnerable, she needed help, and she longed to grow. She needed true friendship for the first time. How to Be Loved is the story of how an isolated person’s life was ripped apart only to be gently stitched back together through friendship, and the recovery—of many stripes—that came along the way. It explores the isolation so many of us feel despite living in an age of constant connectivity; how our ambitions sometimes pull us apart more than bring us together; and how a simple doughnut, delivered by a caring soul, can become the essence of what makes a life valuable. With gorgeous prose shot through with empathy, pain, fear, and the secret truths inside all of us, Eva writes about the friends who taught her to grow up and open her heart—and how the relentlessness of suffering can give rise to the greatest joy. As someone who suffers from isolation every day of her life, this book hit hard and deep in my soul and ripped it to shreds: I think that I went through a box of Kleenex by the time I finished this book. It may get me out of the hole I dug myself into in the end, as well. (It’s not a self-help book, but for me it worked like that). Yes, Eva had the world at her feet: she was rich and went to the best schools, but that is not a reason to hate her! (as some reviewers have ranted about in my honest opinion) It is NOT only the poor and disenfranchised (I know from my volunteer job!) that suffer!! This is not an easy book to read but it is an important book to read as it shows that joy can be found no matter how dark the day may seem. 5 stars (from me and my tear-stained face!)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katee

    It was well written. But OMG, I'm not even sure she understands how unlikeable she was, and still is. While I feel for her because of her multiple illnesses, she comes across as just a horrible (to the point of sociopathic) woman. She seems to be saying she was so horrible before her illnesses because she was pushing people away, but it seems to me she always used everyone and everything (sex with anyone and everyone, drugs, alcohol). I know a lot of truly kind, decent people who have had to sur It was well written. But OMG, I'm not even sure she understands how unlikeable she was, and still is. While I feel for her because of her multiple illnesses, she comes across as just a horrible (to the point of sociopathic) woman. She seems to be saying she was so horrible before her illnesses because she was pushing people away, but it seems to me she always used everyone and everything (sex with anyone and everyone, drugs, alcohol). I know a lot of truly kind, decent people who have had to survive similar trials and have never had the supportive friends that she had. It is interesting what draws so many people to her. I don't get it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I wish this memoir had been more about the friendship between Eva and Allison and less about...Eva's chronic selfishness. I spent most of the time reading about how so many people loved her, commented on her social media, showed up to help, etc. while scratching my head wondering HOW and WHY. She comes across so unlikeable and horrible to people that I am hoping it is a writing failure that neglects to truly show the reader what a wonderful, kind person she is deserving of all of this incredible I wish this memoir had been more about the friendship between Eva and Allison and less about...Eva's chronic selfishness. I spent most of the time reading about how so many people loved her, commented on her social media, showed up to help, etc. while scratching my head wondering HOW and WHY. She comes across so unlikeable and horrible to people that I am hoping it is a writing failure that neglects to truly show the reader what a wonderful, kind person she is deserving of all of this incredible friendship and acts of compassion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    lori light

    The wise teacher Ram Dass said once that “we are all just walking each other home.” This book is about the great act of saying that you don’t know what you’re doing, where you’re going, or why it hurts so much. It’s about learning when to ask for help and knowing when to surrender. Beautifully written; this is a vivacious tale of the author’s pathway of healing her physical and emotional being.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vishal Katariya

    Five stars. A beautiful, beautiful book. Please read it if you can.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    There is a place for bootstraps memoirs. This is not one of those. How to Be Loved reminds us how much we need to need and be needed if we want to experience all that it is to be human.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    This isn't a story about one friendship in which Eva learns how to be loved, which it seems some expected when they picked up this book. But it is a memoir about learning to be loved through the friendship that others extended to her and her ability to come to understand this. It's sad that it takes something like a crisis in our own bodies to realize that we deserve love and are loveable, with every one of our warts in tact. One of my favorite reflections was when Eva listed out all of the reas This isn't a story about one friendship in which Eva learns how to be loved, which it seems some expected when they picked up this book. But it is a memoir about learning to be loved through the friendship that others extended to her and her ability to come to understand this. It's sad that it takes something like a crisis in our own bodies to realize that we deserve love and are loveable, with every one of our warts in tact. One of my favorite reflections was when Eva listed out all of the reasons she thought she is unlovable but realizing, through Allison's love for her, that these were exactly the reasons she is lovable. And at the same time, realized that all of these things could be said about Allison, whom she had seen as better than herself, as well. The rawness in Eva's writing related to her illnesses and the candor that she wrote about her state of mind brought much to the surface for me. After 3 months of post surgery blood work following major liver surgery, then waiting for the year mark for a follow up scan, and the impact that had on me as the time drew nearer, there was much I could identify with in her re-telling. The friendships that I came to realize and my own ability to be vulnerable with those friends and learning to ask for help meant that I could identify with Eva's experiences. But even without those similarities, there is much here that we can all lean into about being a friend, accepting our vulnerability, and learning to be loved. Thank you, Eva.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Nelson

    This book follows Eva, the author, through multiple changes in her life. Whether it be through medical, sexual orientation, relationships, friendships, sobriety, etc, we all face them throughout our lives and Eva was no different. The thing that she had that some of us may never find was a true friend who was like her other half, Allison. It's so hard in life to find even one true friend that you know is your kindred spirit. Eva and Allison were that way, and Allison in many ways, saved Eva. All This book follows Eva, the author, through multiple changes in her life. Whether it be through medical, sexual orientation, relationships, friendships, sobriety, etc, we all face them throughout our lives and Eva was no different. The thing that she had that some of us may never find was a true friend who was like her other half, Allison. It's so hard in life to find even one true friend that you know is your kindred spirit. Eva and Allison were that way, and Allison in many ways, saved Eva. Allison's passing was something that they all knew was inevitable due to the severity of her illness, but that didn't make it any easier when it happened. Eva had to learn how to go on in her life, and she also became ill herself. This book follows her throughout her life including all of this time period, as well as many years following Allison's death while she is faced with overcoming her own illness. I feel like at points the book dragged on for me, although I think the story of her life is interesting and a great story to tell. I guess I just thought it would be different based on the way I interpreted the description. The book was by no means terrible, it just didn't always keep me wanting more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Thank you to the author and to Netgalley for an advance copy of this book. I looked forward to reading it, as I am fond of friendship and memoirs and memoirs about friendship. This book chronicles several challenging years in the life of the author. The aftermath of an intense childhood where high expectations ultimately led to some personal addictions, resulted in the journey to be sober and the pivotal moment where she met Allison, her guide and mentor. Once sober she started noticing signific Thank you to the author and to Netgalley for an advance copy of this book. I looked forward to reading it, as I am fond of friendship and memoirs and memoirs about friendship. This book chronicles several challenging years in the life of the author. The aftermath of an intense childhood where high expectations ultimately led to some personal addictions, resulted in the journey to be sober and the pivotal moment where she met Allison, her guide and mentor. Once sober she started noticing significant health issues and that's where the reader gets to see the power of friendships. Her friends support her through many years of treatments, recovery, new flare ups and eventually, after a harrowing desert journey seeped in despair, some concrete medical answers. I was interested in the journey for answers and I hope the author remains healthy. At times I skimmed past the darkness. I felt like there was no hope. In fact, after finishing the book I felt quite drained. The friends who brought light and humor to the story were appreciated.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carla (happiestwhenreading)

    Thank you, @hmhbooks for the free digital copy to review. All opinions are my own. On the Episode 195 of All the Books, Rebecca Joines Schinsky talked about this book, and like serendipity, my approval from @NetGalley came through! While I think some people will find this book a little dry and slow-moving, I loved every page of it. Having similar feelings about friendships and connection, I related to that portion of her story very much. But my real love for this book came when she wrote about her Thank you, @hmhbooks for the free digital copy to review. All opinions are my own. On the Episode 195 of All the Books, Rebecca Joines Schinsky talked about this book, and like serendipity, my approval from @NetGalley came through! While I think some people will find this book a little dry and slow-moving, I loved every page of it. Having similar feelings about friendships and connection, I related to that portion of her story very much. But my real love for this book came when she wrote about her personal experience with being sick. As many of you know, I lost my mama to cancer so it was so valuable for me to read about someone's personal experience dealing with illness, pain, and their thoughts and feelings while enduring their suffering. There were so many takeaways from this book for me: what it means to be a friend, how to accept (and sometimes ask for) help, surrendering to your life looks and how that may look differently to others, and endurance. It was beautifully written with metaphors that captured my mind and emotions; it won't be a book that I soon forget.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    An honest, intricate and enthralling narrative of the challenges that Eva Hagberg Fisher has journeyed through, in both health and relationship. I found this book to be a gentle reproach at times, in that I could identify with the struggles it describes. However, it was mostly filled with encouragement, and came across as a genuine account of the love that friendship can instil in us.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    I loved this book! I felt like I was inside Eva’s head and shared many of her feelings and experiences. It is thought provoking and honest. For anyone who has struggled with connection and true intimacy this memoir will speak to your soul. I wanted to hug or be hugged by so many of the special people in Eva’s life. Allison! Wow, what gift she was.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dan Seljak

    Highly recommend. A powerful and compelling book about what it takes to get better, both in health and in friendship. Unlike some memoirists, Eva does not pretend to have all the answers, tackling subjects with a highly relatable humour and sensitivity. I finished it in two days.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Phillips

    This author obviously writes well, but the book quickly dissolves into a self-absorbed tale of living in excess, choosing more excess, latching on to others when drowning without valuing them aside from what they give her, etc. This book makes me thankful for libraries.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy S

    i love memoirs but this one was just not for me. do not understand all the 5 star reviews.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liesl K

    The things I do for my book club!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ariane

    It’s been a while since I’ve added a book to my All Time Favourites shelf, but I did with this one. Having been through some major health and social traumas, I had to read this book in chunks, taking time to process in between - whenever I opened it I would suddenly be completely absorbed for an hour or two, and had a hard time putting it down. While I was hoping there would be a bit more directly applicable, instructional wisdom to apply in my own life when it comes to figuring out how to (re)bu It’s been a while since I’ve added a book to my All Time Favourites shelf, but I did with this one. Having been through some major health and social traumas, I had to read this book in chunks, taking time to process in between - whenever I opened it I would suddenly be completely absorbed for an hour or two, and had a hard time putting it down. While I was hoping there would be a bit more directly applicable, instructional wisdom to apply in my own life when it comes to figuring out how to (re)build a social circle/community now that I’m severely ill, what I did get in that regard still gave me a lot of insight into the ways I’m not inviting or allowing that into my life. It’s harder in ways for me to apply to my own life because I’m so housebound, but the author’s willingness to be vulnerable and let friends see her at her worst really gave me a kick in the butt. I don’t want to say too much more and risk spoiling anything, but if you are a person with acute or chronic (especially amorphous) illness, who’s struggled with how to let people be there for you and how to adapt to the changes your illness has created in your life, I can strongly recommend this book - not as a how-to, but as a why and who and what it can all look like.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erin Khar

    An eloquent, inspiring memoir about friendship and love and grief and illness. Really beautifully done.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    The synopsis sounded really good, and poor Fisher has been through so much — tough childhood with multiple stepparents and so many health problems (brain rupture, mild sensitivity etc) but somehow for me, the story fell flat.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rhea

    This book is about illness. The friendships in it are adjacent to the woman navigating her illness. My beef with this book is how it was marketed to be about meaningful friendships and it was more of a deep dive into the author’s insecurities and how she learned to let people help her. I imagine many people will love it, but for me, it could have been an article.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    03.03.2019 NYTimes: the Shortlist "Memoirs of Loss and Love" recommendation...; it’s a wonder how some books get printed, much less recommended; it is not that this book is not without merit, but the self-centerness of this author about drove me to throw it down (I didn’t); there are solme redeeming portions of this novel but for the life of me I can’t figure out why so many people think this is a grand book; 2019 non-fiction (which I seldom read—and now I know why) via Madison County Public Lib 03.03.2019 NYTimes: the Shortlist "Memoirs of Loss and Love" recommendation...; it’s a wonder how some books get printed, much less recommended; it is not that this book is not without merit, but the self-centerness of this author about drove me to throw it down (I didn’t); there are solme redeeming portions of this novel but for the life of me I can’t figure out why so many people think this is a grand book; 2019 non-fiction (which I seldom read—and now I know why) via Madison County Public Library, Berea, 228 pgs.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Cryer

    This is seriously the worst book I've read since Wild. Self absorbed does not even begin to describe this author. I kept waiting for an epiphany, some semblance of gratitude to her friends, some crumb to tie into the title, but no. Just whiny. Poor me crap from beginning to end. I feel sorry for her husband and those people that thought they were her friends. It's obvious to me that she doesn't care about them at all. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. This is seriously the worst book I've read since Wild. Self absorbed does not even begin to describe this author. I kept waiting for an epiphany, some semblance of gratitude to her friends, some crumb to tie into the title, but no. Just whiny. Poor me crap from beginning to end. I feel sorry for her husband and those people that thought they were her friends. It's obvious to me that she doesn't care about them at all. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Overall, lovely. I think it would have been stronger, structurally, as a series of less-connected essays, but that's mostly because of the last quarter of it (which sort of seemed to lose the plot) and it's only really a minor quibble. Well written, and lots of good insights about trauma and relationships and self-acceptance. Overall, lovely. I think it would have been stronger, structurally, as a series of less-connected essays, but that's mostly because of the last quarter of it (which sort of seemed to lose the plot) and it's only really a minor quibble. Well written, and lots of good insights about trauma and relationships and self-acceptance.

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