‘Love Brought Me Back’

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Oh, you were a wild child.

LoveBroughtMeBack

To you, the word “no” was a sure challenge. Curfews were mere suggestions, mischief was your best friend, and danger was in your blood. While it’s true that you never did anything illegal, everybody counted on you to liven up the room and bring down the house.

If only your parents knew….

Author Natalie Cole’s family knew about her troubles several decades ago. In the new book “Love Brought Me Back” (with David Ritz), you’ll read about that regretfully wild time in Cole’s life, and how the love of a stranger saved Cole when it all came back to haunt her.

Though singer Natalie Cole says that her favorite way to party these days is to go to church and “experience the full-tilt gospel joy,” it wasn’t always that way. More than two decades ago, Cole was an addict who scored heroin wherever she could find it. Even her dealer was surprised at the rate at which she consumed the drug.

With the help of her family – Cole’s older sister, a beloved aunt, cousins and sister-friends – Cole lost her addiction and found God. After her healing, Cole started recording again and was working on another album of technologically-mixed duets with her late father, Nat, when preliminary bloodwork revealed something problematic.

Natalie Cole had Hepatitis C, a disease “not uncommon among intravenous drug users.” She was immediately started on Interferon, a type of chemotherapy. But the drug that saved her life also ruined her kidneys, and Cole began to weaken.

Desperately ill but with strong resolve, Cole continued working and performing in front of audiences, receiving dialysis wherever her tours took her. She went on the donor list and hoped for a match before time ran out. But, as Cole was battling her own medical crisis, her sister discovered that she, too, was very ill.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Southern California, 32-year-old mother-to-be Jessica Karina was close to her due date when her sister noticed swelling in Jessica’s feet. She was admitted to the hospital where doctors discovered that she had preeclampsia, a dangerous condition. Hours after her admittance and her baby’s delivery, the young woman was dead.

Though it was difficult, her family knew what Jessica would have wanted. She was a helper of people, a caring person. Donating her organs would honor her life…

Looking for a dose of gratitude this holiday season? You’ll find it here in this slim little memoir.

Author and songstress Natalie Cole gives you a peek into a period of her life when a heartbreaking loss and a lifesaving gain happened, coincidentally and literally, at the exact same time. Readers will note that Cole has endured her unfair share of loss in her lifetime, and the bittersweetness comes through in her words. My only disappointment in this gracious, loving memoir is that it’s not long enough.

If you’re looking for something quick and easy to read, I think you’ll like this book a lot. “Love Brought Me Back” is a book you’ll be wild about.

(“Love Brought Me Back” by Natalie Cole with David Ritz, Simon & Schuster, $23, 165 pages)

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