I’m a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and found her book Lean In really inspirational. I still remember reading her first Facebook post after her husband Dave passed away suddenly in 2015. I could feel her pain radiating through and it affected me a lot more than I thought it would.
Sheryl is a fantastic writer and when I heard she was writing a new book, Option B, about building resilience in the face of adversity, I knew I had to read it. Last year my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was the absolute worst time of my life. Thankfully she recently finished her treatment and everything is looking positive – but thinking back to the time around her diagnosis, I can’t believe we managed to cope. I struggle with anxiety anyway and the stress of that time – and finding out the cancer had already started to spread to her lymph nodes – meant I had to leave my job to be able to cope mentally, and to be with her during her surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
From Facebook’s COO and Wharton’s top-rated professor, the #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Lean In and Originals: a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.
Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.
We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.
With work stress and a wedding coming up next month, unless a book grips me instantly then I’ve been struggling to get through it. Luckily this book did just that and I devoured it.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book but it had a lot more memoir elements than I was expecting. I was surprised at how much Sheryl shared about the time of her husband’s death – how she found him and how she told their children. It was harrowing and I shed tears at several times.
The book is definitely practical and introduces countless real life stories of people that have come through adversity – whether losing a spouse, losing a child or being diagnosed with a serious illness. I’ll be honest, at times this was a bit depressing and if you’re someone who is easily affected by these sort of stories I’d recommend taking it slow. There were a few stories about people being diagnosed with breast cancer, some of who passed away from the disease, which was hard for me to read about.
I do appreciate this book’s message and it is inspirational. Especially if you’re going through a difficult time and are starting to lose hope that things will get better. Just bear in mind that it’s low on actual actionable tips but high in real life stories that show you that you can come out of the other side stronger.
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing, for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.