NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A meditation on sense-making when there’s no sense to be made, on letting go when we can’t hold on, and on being unafraid even when we’re terrified.”—Lucy Kalanithi “Belongs on the shelf alongside other terrific books about this difficult subject, like Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.”—Gates Notes
Kate Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School with a modest Christian upbringing, but she specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, a creed that sees fortune as a blessing from God and misfortune as a mark of God’s disapproval. At thirty-five, everything in her life seems to point toward “blessing.” She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son.
Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
The prospect of her own mortality forces Kate to realize that she has been tacitly subscribing to the prosperity gospel, living with the conviction that she can control the shape of her life with “a surge of determination.” Even as this type of Christianity celebrates the American can-do spirit, it implies that if you “can’t do” and succumb to illness or misfortune, you are a failure. Kate is very sick, and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before.
Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, mega-church preachers, relatives, and doctors. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live.
Praise for Everything Happens for a Reason
“I fell hard and fast for Kate Bowler. Her writing is naked, elegant, and gripping—she’s like a Christian Joan Didion. I left Kate’s story feeling more present, more grateful, and a hell of a lot less alone. And what else is art for?”—Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Warrior and president of Together Rising
About the Author
Kate Bowler is an assistant professor at Duke Divinity School. A graduate of Yale Divinity School and Duke University, Bowler is the author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son.
“A meditation on sense-making when there’s no sense to be made, on letting go when we can’t hold on, and on being unafraid even when we’re terrified. And it happens to be hilarious. Above all, though, this is a love letter to life, and it’s gorgeous.”—Lucy Kalanithi, MD, FACP, clinical assistant professor of medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine
“[A] wonderful new memoir . . . Everything Happens belongs on the shelf alongside other terrific books about this difficult subject, like Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. . . . It’s inspiring to see this thoughtful woman face such weighty topics with honesty and humor.”—Gates Notes
“I fell hard and fast for Kate Bowler. Her writing is naked, elegant, and gripping—she’s like a Christian Joan Didion. I left Kate’s story feeling more present, more grateful, and a hell of a lot less alone. And what else is art for? Everything Happens for a Reason is art in its highest form, and Kate Bowler is a true artist—with the pen, and with her life.”—Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Warrior and president of Together Rising
“[Bowler’s] dry humor and raw, personal accounts help make thinking about our common fate bearable.”—TheWall Street Journal
“Bowler’s lovely prose and sharp wit capture her struggle to find continued joy after her [stage IV cancer] diagnosis. This poignant look at the unpredictable promises of faith will amaze readers.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A page-turner of lasting force . . . Bowler wields a sharp pen, one that flows seamlessly through comic terrain, pausing for laugh-out-loud one-liners . . . as it probes death and dying young with aching poignancy.”—Chicago Tribune
“This is a beautifully written, intelligent, soulful book, necessary reading for all of us who long to walk faithfully and honestly through the darkest and most desolate of seasons.”—Shauna Niequist, New York Times bestselling author of Present Over Perfect
“The Kate Bowler you will come to know in this book is 100 percent real: honest, brave, holy, ridiculous, profane, hilarious, human—her fierce and beautiful words will make you ugly-cry and laugh out loud inappropriately in public places, and they will make you long for the courage to tell the truth about your life.”—Amy K. Butler, senior minister, The Riverside Church
“[Bowler] delivers raw emotion, realistic description, and candid assessments . . . An inspiring story of finding faith—in God, in family, and in oneself—while walking close to the Valley of the Shadow of Death.”—Kirkus Reviews