Book Review — “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends”

green plant on white ceramic pot

This has to be my most obnoxious book review ever. Why? Because I’m about to “review” a 300+ page memoir about friends that I’ve only read some 100 pages of. In other words, I’m going to talk about a book I’ve only read one-third way through.

As far as book reviewers go, I must surely be the most audacious one yet!

Now, before you throw the proverbial book at me, please just let me explain why I’m doing this.

You see, I just found out that the author of this book had passed away barely a month ago. It was a death the author herself had predicted would happen. After recovering from the shocking revelation (of the author’s demise on the fifth of last month), I felt the urgency to pay tribute now, rather than wait til I finish the book. Which, given my reading speed these days, could be weeks, even months away.

I’m talking about Amy Silverstein‘s second memoir, My Glory Was I Had Such Friends (her first was Sick Girl).

All About Amy

Picture of the author and her bookMy Glory Was I Had Such Friends” (Source:

Amy Silverstein was a lawyer, wife, mother, author, and two-time heart transplant recipient. The first time I found out about Amy was thanks to an essay she wrote that went viral when the New York Times published it in April this year.

In that exquisitely-written article, prophetically titled “My Transplanted Heart and I Will Die Soon“, Amy advocated for more resources and efforts to relook at a much-neglected aspect of the medical profession to date. That of organ transplant recipients and their continued care.

Prior to this, I had no knowledge or experience on this issue. So why the interest now? Her masterful writing.

In that piece, she began this way: Today, I will explain to my healthy transplanted heart why, in what may be a matter of days or weeks at best, she — well, we — will die.

Talk about an attention-grabber of an introduction! No one reading that could possibly do anything else but read on.

That’s what I did. As I read, I learned that Amy had two heart transplant operations in her life. Once in her mid-20s, and the second time in her 40s. Interestingly, both times the donors were 13-year-old girls who died tragically young, the second one from a car accident.

I also learned that organ recipients like her, with an aggressive antibody profile, have to constantly suppress their body’s natural inclination to attack foreign “invaders”, including transplanted organs. To do so, patients like Amy are forced to take immuno-suppressants for the rest of their lives. This means they are constantly susceptible to all kinds of diseases, including cancer.

Which, sadly, was what Amy passed away from last month. She was 59.

Before leaving her loved ones and legions of followers, Amy posted a final message on Twitter the day before her passing. In it, she encouraged her followers to continue advocating for better treatments and care for transplant patients.

A fighter to the very end.

My Friends, My Glory

Amy (holding her book) and the friends featured in her book (Source: ABC News)

I’ve written before about friendship, and how I had very few truly close and abiding friends. I still don’t, but my secret longing for friends who care and who I can always count on remains ever strong and present.

It explains why I was drawn to My Glory Was I Had Such Friends. The book feels like a real-world expression of my secret longing. Of what I believe might in fact be everyone’s secret longing too. That somewhere in this world, there are at least a handful of friends and family we can count on to travel halfway across the country (or even the world) at the drop of a hat, to be with us through ups and downs.

That’s exactly what nine bosom buddies of Amy’s did.

The book chronicles how these wonderful, caring friends came through for Amy in ways that redefine true, authentic friendship.

During three critical months when Amy and her husband Scott had to transit from New York to California for treatment, nine ladies in Amy’s inner circle of friends created a day-by-day spreadsheet schedule across those months. With that schedule, Amy was assured of at least one constant companion, from that inspiring group of nine ladies, every single day. Given that Scott had to travel frequently for work, this was no small blessing for Amy.

It was also no small feat for nine grown women, living in various parts of the US, with careers and family responsibilities, to sacrificially set aside all of that and travel miles and miles to be with their ailing friend. From hospital bedsides to waiting rooms, these friends never once left her side. They were her 24/7 bodyguards, domestic helpers, constant companions, and forever friends.

It’s hard not to read this book without feeling a mixture of awe and envy.

A testimony to the power of having true friends

photography of book page
Photo by Nitin Arya on

As said at the beginning, this really is an audacious, obnoxious, and unfinished book review. Perhaps I might rewrite it sometime later when I’ve finished reading it (yes I will finish the book).

For now, allow me to share a few paragraphs found at the end of the prologue that testifies to the power of having true friends. And how they point to the promise of what the rest of this beautiful book will unpack for us about the glory of having such friends in our lives!

Speaking of the times her friends stayed with her and the conversations they had, Amy had this to share:

…We dove into truths and discoveries about ourselves, our husbands, our children, and our group of friends that lit the space around us to shimmering, no matter how alarming the signs that time was running out on my heart. Suspended in this desperately enchanted bubble, we found a new way to talk about life.

And when death did come up, in what were the frankest conversations of all, it was clear that no friend wanted me to die on her watch.

But neither did she want it to happen when she was not by my side.

Intense hours were spent together…friend to friend, with unprecedented privacy for long stretches during the day and late into the night…after all, every time one of these women left my Californian hospital room and flew home, she assumed she might never see me again.

This is the story of what that assumption brought out in each of us: our finest yet.

The result was transcendent.

PS Thank you, Amy! R.I.P.

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