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The Death Class

A True Story About Life
Paperback Book
Simon & Schuster
January, 2015
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Publisher’s Description: 

The poignant, powerful (The Boston Globe) look at how to appreciate life from an extraordinary professor who teaches about death: Poetic passages and assorted revelations youll likely not forget (Chicago Tribune).

Why does a college course on death have a three-year waiting list? When nurse Norma Bowe decided to teach a course on death at a college in New Jersey, she never expected it to be popular. But year after year students crowd into her classroom, and the reason is clear: Normas death class is really about how to make the most of what poet Mary Oliver famously called our one wild and precious life.

Under the guise of discussions about last wills and last breaths and visits to cemeteries and crematoriums, Norma teaches her students to find grace in one another. In The Death Class, award-winning journalist Erika Hayasaki followed Norma for more than four years, showing how she steers four extraordinary students from their tormented families and neighborhoods toward happiness: she rescues one young woman from her suicidal mother, helps a young man manage his schizophrenic brother, and inspires another to leave his gang life behind. Through this unorthodox class on death, Norma helps kids who are barely hanging on to understand not only the value of their own lives, but also the secret of fulfillment: to throw yourself into helping others.

Hayasakis expert reporting and literary prose bring Normas wisdom out of the classroom, transforming it into an inspiring lesson for all. In the end, Normas very own lifeand how she lives itis the lecture that sticks. Readers will come away struck by Bowes compassionand by the unexpectedly life-affirming messages of courage that spring from her students harrowing experiences (Entertainment Weekly).

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